Wednesday, February 4, 2009


It snowed four inches overnight--a light, fluffy flocking that accumulated on the tree branches and made them dazzle this morning. The image is from my front porch at first light, just as the sun just began to illuminated the woods.

Last evening, we went to see the Batsheva Dance Company. The company danced sections from a full-evening work called Deca Dance by the company's choreographer, Ohad Naharin. While the program listed the named sections of the dance, it also indicated that the company would not necessarily dance the sections in the order listed, so I couldn't determine which of the sections I enjoyed and which I thought could (and should) have been left out. The first four sections were powerful and compelling dances--so good that I was glad that I braved the accumulating snow and slippery roads to get to the performance. The first section (Anaphaza), in particular, was, as the local newspaper dance critic noted in her review, "surely one of the most riveting theatrical works ever created." I concur. This section featured the full company, dressed in boxy black suits, white shirts, and fedoras, sitting on chairs in a semicircle. They writhed rhythmically on, above, and below their chairs to a loud, percussive, angry-sounding recording of a Hebrew folk song. Then, the program deteriorated with two pieces that were idiosyncratic, self-indulgent and, ultimately, tiresome.

Following intermission, the company performed two more sections. One section included a duet between two of the male members of the ensemble that was very well done. But, other portions of the same section were danced to "music" that sounded more like random noise, and the dancers writhed and squirmed gracelessly. In addition, further along in the same section, some of the women dancers "mooned" the audience, then they began to expose their pubes. The males followed suit, but their cocks and balls were hidden, tucked between their legs. It was all gratuitous and stupid. The final, unfortunate and interminable section (George and Zalman) involved five women dancing to minimalist musical tinklings with a repeating voiceover that included a few new words with each intonation--sort of a "talk down the lane" scenario. The voiceover was meaningless babble to begin with, and nearer the end, it added gratuitous obscenities designed to add shock value, I suppose. Perhaps the shock was necessary, because the dancing was certainly uninspired and tiresome.

Clearly, Ohad Naharin has some real talent, but is also given to navel-gazing. He needs an editor and some self-restraint.

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