Youngsters rise to the challenge

Deca Dance

Batsheva Ensemble

Birmingham Hippodrome

****

BATSHEVA Ensemble was founded more  20 years ago following the appointment of Ohad Naharin as Batsheva Dance Company's Artistic Director and Deca Dance, choreographed by Naharin, is not a new work, but is a continually evolving recreation of different sections of existing works.

Nor has it a particular tale to tell. Gaga, the innovative dance training method developed by Naharin, is about listening to inner senses of weight, rhythm, timing and flow thus giving dancers new keys to the language of movement and dance.

Arriving early, we were treated to delightful solo dance as others meandered into the auditorium, and this set us up for an evening of spectacle. We could not help but be drawn into the exuberant and unique performance; passion and high energy flows from these talented, young (18-23 years old) dancers who are graduates from dance schools around the world.

Naharin trained in music throughout his youth and also works closely with design and sound teams to create a powerful show. At times, the dancers move in unison and then unexpectedly the tempo changes in quirky ways. This is exemplified in the exerpt from Naharin's Virus in which the dancers, wearing white bodysuits, in turn break out from the line in wild, yet controlled expression and then become stilled.

RIPPLES

The pieces ranged from robotic and finely controlled ripples of movement through fluid and emotional expression in Black Milk, to a hauntingly beautiful, sensual duet (Mabul). Some might wish for more narrative or theme through the work, but a performance such as this seems to draw threads together so that a thrilling, cohesive whole emerges. 

Audience interaction was taken to a joyful new level when the troupe - in shapeless black suits and feodoras - selected partners from the audience (Zachacha).  This could have been an embarrassing interlude but instead made Gaga feel inviting and delightfully accessible for all.

In writing about this performance, it is impossible to ignore the impact of those who chose to exercise their right to demonstrate anti-Israeli feelings, both outside and inside the theatre.

But maybe even more remarkable was the ability of these young people to keep focused and carry on with the job they had come to do – to share their art.

In this they surely succeeded. The intensity of the final piece in which the ensemble arch and create shapes and waves to express the thin line between panic, fatigue and madness is simply astonishing.

Memorable, thought-provoking and spectacular, this is one show I won't forget in a hurry. To 14-11-12.

Laura Ginesi

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