The Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Hora. Photo by Gadi Dagon.
There’s a certain baseline of excitement when it comes to watching a preview of a world premiere, especially when it’s by a world renowned choreographer like Ohad Naharin. As you might imagine, that baseline is pretty high.
So I was excited (dare I say thrilled?) to attend the press showing of Ohad Naharin’s Hora shortly before its debut in Jerusalem on May 18th. And, I’m happy to report, my excitement only grew as I saw snippets of the latest work by Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director. Besides being new, Hora feels remarkably fresh (and here I’ll note that my newspaper write-up of the preview was titled “Fresh and Exciting” – two truly fitting adjectives for the dance).
As a dance historian, I was delighted to find more treasures in this showing of Hora besides the basic pleasure of previewing a new, promising work. Certain elements of Naharin’s dance conjure up prominent images from other choreographers’ masterworks. The dancers repeatedly step into fifth position with one arm outstretched on a high diagonal and fingers pointing down to the floor – a slight variation on a familiar stance from George Balanchine’s celebrated Serenade. And during one section, as the sounds of Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune filled the theater – transformed by Isao Tomita’s synthesizer – I couldn’t help comparing the bent wrists of the Batsheva dancers to the angled wrists of the dancers in Vaslav Nijinsky’s Faune.