Phaza Morgana 2009: Batsheva Dance Company in the Desert

Events, Israeli Companies, Israeli Festivals, Performances, Video Views


Ohad Naharin’s Anaphaza.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Two weeks ago, the distinctive sound of dancers drumming on enormous water cooler bottles flooded the courtyard of the Suzanne Dellal Center as the Batsheva Dance Company rehearsed Ohad Naharin’s Anaphaza.  But last week, the studios were eerily silent.  Why?  Batsheva took Anaphaza, water bottles and all, down to the Arava desert for Phaza Morgana 2009.  From October 22-25, the usually placid Timna Park overflowed with audiences and energy as Batsheva and the Idan Raichel Project put on three spectacular shows.

My preview of Phaza Morgana was originally published as “Dance in the Desert” in the Jerusalem Post.

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Dance in the Desert

This weekend, the desert won’t be so deserted.  Crowds of eager spectators are flocking to scenic Timna Park, twenty-five kilometers north of Eilat, for Isrotel Phaza Morgana 2009.  Nestled among the park’s striking rock formations at the foot of the magnificent Solomon’s Pillars, a 3,000 seat amphitheater will host three spectacular programs designed to entice the senses and enliven the spirit.

The world-renowned Batsheva Dance Company has partnered with the Israeli hotel chain Isrotel to present Phaza Morgana on five previous occasions, but this year’s festival promises to be the most sensational event yet.  As in previous seasons, the dance troupe’s large-scale production of Anaphaza forms Phaza Morgana’s centerpiece and maintains a magical appeal.


Ohad Naharin’s Anaphaza.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Choreographed for the Israel Festival in 1993 by Batsheva’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin, Anaphaza boasts pulsing rhythms, inventive movement, clever props, and eye-catching costumes which have made the work a favorite among audiences and critics alike; indeed, the dance has been seen by an astounding 350,000 people around the world and won recognition as one of the artist’s signature works.  For Phaza Morgana, over thirty dancers from the Batsheva Dance Company and the Batsheva Ensemble will bring Anaphaza to life with their unchained energy, spreading from the stage onto the rock formations themselves.

Batsheva Dance Company’s other program in the festival is Take Two. Created especially for Phaza Morgana, Take Two combines selections not only from Naharin’s rich repertory but from Sharon Eyal’s growing body of work.  Eyal’s choreography, which masterfully moves large groups of dancers through the space, is well-suited to the grand scale and soaring backdrop of the desert stage.  Her Bertolina was a success at Phaza Morgana 2007, and now excerpts of her more recent Makarova Kabisa will be featured in Take Two.  Naharin’s portion of the program will include sections from older classics such as Mabul and Naharin’s Virus as well as newer favorites like Seder and Shalosh.

Phaza Morgana

Phaza Morgana in Timna Park. Photo by Liron Simon.

While dance is at the heart of Phaza Morgana, this year’s event also highlights music with a captivating concert by the Idan Raichel Project.  Based on the group’s latest hit album, the show Within My Walls will be accompanied by a sixteen-member orchestra and will include special guest appearances by internationally known soloists.  Marta Gómez contributes a Colombian flavor to Raichel’s ensemble, and Somi adds African accents to the group’s eclectic sound.  With the Idan Raichel Project’s irresistible beats and intoxicating melodies, Phaza Morgana’s crowds will leave the festival dancing.

Video: Isrotel’s promotional video of Phaza Morgana

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