Monday, March 5, 2012

Ohad Naharin and his edgy, honest and stimulating choreography

By Melinda Wilson

Anyone who has seen a dance company perform knows that it can involve a lot of technical and specific work that is unique to that company. While each company may vary to a certain degree, there is one company that stirs the soul like no other - Batsheva Dance Company from Israel. Batsheva is known for its eclectic, thought-provoking choreography and movement. Ohad Naharin, Artistic Director since 1990, is one of the world’s most celebrated contemporary dance choreographers. His award-winning work has been presented around the world with companies including Nederlands Dans Theatre, Ballet Frankfurt, Lyon Opera Ballet, Compania Nacional de Danza (Spain) Culbert Ballet (Sweden) and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (NY). Here in Chicago, Naharin’s choreography has been a staple at Hubbard Street Dance Company for many years.

The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University will host Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company on March 17 and 18, 2012. The incredibly edgy, honest and stimulating choreography of Naharin’s is always anticipated with eagerness as audiences explore the ideas put forth on the stage by his incredibly sensual dancers. Max, the first dance on the program showcases Naharin’s musical prowess. Using the pseudonym of Maxim Waratt, Narharin composed the music for Max in 2007. It was in that year that I saw the premiere of Max as part of International Dance Exposure in Tel-Aviv at his home theatre The Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre. This action-packed movement with both humor and heart made the world press sit up and take notice. For me, Max can be funny, at times somewhat provocative, and always exhilarating.

Naharin’s B/olero was seen only as a glimpse in Batsheva Dance Company’s DECCA Dance which was performed two years ago at The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Like most of Naharin’s work, B/olero summons us into a more open and embracing world. The theatrical tone becomes enticing as the dancers move through identity, realization, sexuality and fortitude. The choreography and dancers alike are textural with great physical technical control and drama.

Both Max and B/olero captivates the audience by frequent changes in styles and focus. The result is relaxing and stimulating at the same time transforming the normally passive spectator into an active participant. That’s some power for you!

The company’s appeal along with the inspiring choreography is based in the unique manner in which the artists move. Batsheva executes movement with a specific flair that is reshaping and redefining the contemporary dance world. Gaga, an innovative movement language created by Naharin, looks for availability within movement and does this through an exploration of connections and sensations within the body. Through Gaga, Naharin has enriched his artistic vision not only by movement exploration, but also by how the company trains. Gaga is the primary training method used by the company, giving them a signature movement style which is not easily duplicated. Furthermore, Naharin has expanded this movement practice for both dancers and non-dancers around the world. Naharin has even shared Gaga with outreach programs for children, victims of war, and non-dancers who want to learn how to move their body.

One fact is undeniable: anyone who has even a passing interest in the arts should not miss this exciting Chicago performance by Batsheva Dance Company. Simply put, Batsheva is a delight to the eye and will excite the senses. This company is at the top of a mountain peak of artistic achievement and artistry.

Melinda Wilson:

Melinda Wilson holds a M.Ed. from DePaul University (Chicago) and an M.A. from the University of Illinois with additional course work at Northwestern Illinois University. She has trained at Lou Conte Dance Studios, The Dance Center of Columbia College, the Joel Hall Dance Center, Moming Dance Center, Pineapples (London), The Dance Works (London), Centre de Danse de Paris (Goube of the Paris Opera Ballet), Batsheva Dance Company (Tel-Aviv), and Centre de Danse du Marias (Paris). This will be Melinda's fifth consecutive year studying Naharin’s repertoire and GAGA in Israel.

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