Deca Dance - Batsheva Dance Company

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

21/02/2014 - 24/02/2014

New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2014

Production Details

Deca Dance is a celebration of 20 years of Naharin’s work with Batsheva Dance Company. Highlighting many facets of his repertoire, Naharin reconstructs his oeuvre by taking sections of existing works and reorganising them into a new fresh experience. Deca Dance offers the possibility to look at Naharin’s repertoire, from its most extravagant to its most intimate and heart-rending. 

Deca Dance still evolves to this day.
Deca Dance contains segments from Ohad Naharin’s Zachacha (1998),
Kir (1990), Deca Dance (2006), Mabul (1992), Black Milk (1985),
Three (2005), Max (2007) and Virus (2001).
Lighting Design for the original creations Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi)
Costume Design for the original creations Rakefet Levi
Costume Design for Seder Sharon Eyal
The world premiere of Deca Dance was in 2000,
at Suzanne Dellal Center, Tel Aviv

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21-24 Feb 2014 at 8pm

Bret Easterling (US), William Barry (US), Omri Drumlevich (Israel), Ariel Cohen (Israel), Ori Moshe Ofri (Israel), Shamel Pitts (US), Or Schraiber (Israel), Oscar Ramos (Puerto Rico), Ian Robinson (US) ; Stephanie Amurao (Canada), Bobbi Smith  (US), Zina Zinchenko (Russia), Adi Zlatin (Israel), Chen-Wei Lee (Taiwan), Eri Nakamura (Japan), Maayan Sheinfeld (US), Maya Tamir (Israel)


Dance , Contemporary dance ,

75 mins - no interval

powerful, engaging commentary on the human condition

Review by Francesca Horsley 23rd Feb 2014

stage, as the audience take their seats in Wellington’s St James Theatre, a solitary dancer, Shamel Pitts, quietly moves to barely audible music. With elastic gyrations, he slowly builds the tempo with masterful improvisation, mixing humour, slinky street moves and fluid, contained sequences. Gradually, he is joined by the full ensemble, each dancer revealing a distinctive personality.

It is this skill of taking simple movement and gesture as building blocks to mount a compelling human dialogue that gives Batsheva Dance Company its power. Deca Dance, choreographed by Ohad Naharin, is an outstanding composite programme of excerpts from works performed in recent years.

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Superb dance company

Review by Ann Hunt 23rd Feb 2014

This extraordinary company is a perfect choice for the opening night of the New Zealand Festival. Inventive, exhilarating, moving – it is everything that the festival aims to be and then some.

It comes as no surprise that Batsheva is recognised as one of the world’s leading contemporary dance companies. It is superb.

Artistic director/ choreographer Ohad Naharin takes contemporary dance to a whole new level. His choreography is astonishingly varied and inventive. The dancers soar, contract, roll, flick, shake, all with split-second timing in ways rarely seen before.

All 18 are phenomenal. They risk everything and hold back nothing. Their bodies are sublimely fluid, with magnificent upper body reach. But it is their absolute unflagging energy that takes one’s breath away.

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Batsheva triumph with superb dancing

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 23rd Feb 2014

Power and power play are brought into sharp focus in this series of highly charged sequences from the past 20 years of works made for the Israeli company, Batsheva Dance by choreographer Ohad Naharin.

We enter the theatre to share the stark space with solo dancers moving immaculately and silently in their own groove of movement. A short script that speaks of beauty, style and suffering, inspired by Charles Bukowski communicates  literally to the audience and then leaves dance to be the communicator. And how they dance!

These are beautiful dancers with clean clear rhythmic moves that relentlessly deliver individual styles. United visually by the formality of suits and white shirts – the attire of business – gradually the stage fills and abruptly the curtain falls! An unexpected and mildly disconcerting moment as we the audience are shut out from this sinuous world of possibility.

When the curtain flies out again, eighteen formally clothed, hatted, asexual dancers on chairs form a semicircle and ritual folk dance gestures that connect these dancers to Israel and the Middle East gain speed and power. I am reminded of the opening image of The Green Table by Kurt Joos and the power play of the men at the imaginary and political bargaining table of life. The strength of unison and repetition in life is brilliantly portrayed and constantly re referenced as the life of both our world and these performers who dance on our behalf, disconnect. One dancer falls prostrate, another stands aloft on his chair – shoes are flung into the air – coats shed and clothes stripped as these people hunger for their own identity. 

Symbols of difference evolve and as the driving energy and sequences of Deca Dance unfold there is a constant under-current of forced cohesion – dancers in unison working together to break apart and reform. Minuscule movement and grand sweeping dynamics set against each other in a tightly controlled and considered choreographic vocabulary. The constant circles and kolos of folk sequences pull us into a vortex that never resolves and leaves us gasping.

There is a powerful pull of energy into the floor and when there is elevation it is explosive and momentary. The escapism and predictability that is showtime slickness livens the journey and provides fun when there is a gathering up of women from the audience (common denominator is the colour red). They join the stage in a social cha cha as partners or puppets? 

There is desperation in the haunted and hunted humanity of mankind’s struggle for survival. Water creates arcs of sheen in the light but it is the harsh reality of the water of survival caught in the contradiction of a beautiful moment that resonates. A sinister and evocative duet hints at shadows and gratification but not at love as a part of the relationship?

Persecution, manipulation, supplication, temptation, exuberance and always throughout the desperation of the need for communication in the world of human experience. Strong visceral command of every nuance of movement, and high tensile bodies that  are totally at their owners beck and call use unison and gesture to take us through an episodic series of universal stories.

The colour palette gradually moves from grey and monotones to glimpses of colour and a sense of today and the gaunt lines of the dancers faces ultimately find some expression of personal difference. The end is a crescendo of voice and childlike counting that holds the menace of a firing line and exposed  individuals desperate to find their chance of both psychological and physical freedom.

Music ranges  from the grandeur of Vivaldi to the accessibility of Over The Rainbow. The Beach Boys ‘You’re Welcome ‘ provides both foot tapping rhythm in the finale and irony in the contradiction of the message it so blithely delivers.  The political and the moral are darkly referenced. Life unravels and is re-stitched before our eyes, but the lean mean machine of this dance company that is Batsheva totally triumphs in an evening of superb dance to open the 2014 New Zealand Festival.


Dean Parker February 24th, 2014

I heard Lynn Freeman on the radio this morning saying how much she enjoyed the Israeli dance company Batsheva at the International Festival. The reviews on this site have all praised Batsheva’s performances and I’ve read further acclaim for them elsewhere on-line.

Batsheva is a controversial troupe and Lynn Freeman added that the decision to go and see them is one each of us has to make for ourselves.

I don’t live in Wellington so it’s not a decision I have to make. But if I did I would be on the picket line outside the St James.

Art, like sport, will always be part of political initiatives -- political initiatives which will, in turn, attract political responses.

And there will always be those arguments, “Where do we draw the line?” and, “Let he who is without sin…” etc.

But here we have a dance company, Batsheva, which I understand is funded directly by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of Brand Israel. Brand Israel is the Israeli government’s attempt to market the state of Israel as something other than that everyday perception of it as military aggressor and tyrant.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs praises the troupe as “ambassadors of Israeli culture”. But an essential part of that culture is the treatment of its Arab citizens, the construction of Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land, the military occupation of the West Bank Palestinian territory and the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

A press release issued by the coalition of Palestinian groups who have established the picket line outside the St James quotes University of Auckland Dance Studies Associate Professor Nicholas Rowe:

“If Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company would have the courage to refuse to offer their bodies up to the Israeli Defence Forces for annual military service, if they would have the courage to publicly condemn the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the ongoing theft of land and property by the government that pays them to tour in the name of Israel, if they would have the courage to publicly state that they do not judge people by their religion or ethnicity and so would welcome the return of non-Jewish refugees back to their homes inside what is now Israel, then they would be touring to New Zealand as dance artists, and not just as political puppets. Anybody who seeks to watch Batsheva should be aware that Ohad Naharin and Batsheva have these choices to make.”

This seems fair comment.

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