Tag Archive | "Sadeh21"

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The 50th Israel Festival: Batsheva, Merce Cunningham, and More

Posted on 25 May 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: The 2011 Israel Festival
50 years of the Israel Festival – this country’s most prestigious multidisciplinary arts festival – is a milestone worthy of celebration.  And for local dance lovers, the jubilee season offers even more reasons to celebrate, for the programming features an extraordinary lineup of artists from home and from abroad.  With a rich calendar of performances through June 18, the 2011 Israel Festival is set to lure concert-goers from around the country to Jerusalem.  Here’s a peek at this year’s dance events:


Video: Strange Fruit

The first day of the festival featured the physical marvels of Australia’s Strange Fruit in Zion Square and the lyricism of the Israel Ballet and soloists from Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet performing Giselle in Safra Square.

Video: Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh21

Batsheva Dance Company returns to the festival with Ohad Naharin’s new Sadeh21, created in collaboration with the troupe’s full roster of dancers.  Bathed in soft lighting by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi) and clothed in variously hued and textured costumes by Ariel Cohen, the company presented a short preview to the press on Monday.  Although the cast is large, the rapport among the dancers often lends the work an intimate feel and effectively draws the viewer into the world onstage.  Sadeh21 premieres on May 25 and continues its run in Jerusalem through May 27.

Naharin is not the only well-known Israeli choreographer premiering work in the Israel Festival.  On May 28-29, choreographer Nimrod Freed and composer Israel Breit will unveil La, a work for four singers and three dancers.  Drawing on their respective backgrounds in dance and theater, longtime partners Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor will debut Ship of Fools on June 9.


Video: Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Two years after Merce Cunningham’s death, the legendary choreographer’s company is appearing in the Israel Festival as part of its worldwide Legacy Tour.  On June 6, the Sherover Theater will host the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s performance of Split Sides (2003) and Sounddance (1975), while the Israel Museum will be the site of several Events – programs including excerpts of Cunningham’s renowned repertory – on June 9-11.

Merce Cunningham’s Events.  Photo by Anna Finke.

Besides these performances, a series of lectures, discussions, and workshops called MerceCampus will be offered at Bezalel, Yaffo 23 in conjunction with the Jerusalem Season of Culture.  Sessions include a workshop with Dance Forms, the computer software used by Cunningham to compose his dances; film screenings and performances of music by Cunningham’s famed partner John Cage; and conversations with the company’s dancers and artistic director.  Entry to MerceCampus programming is free, and the full schedule in English is available here.

Video: The Danish Dance Theatre in Tim Rushton’s Kridt

The 2011 Israel Festival will close with the Danish Dance Theatre in two programs.  Artistic director Tim Rushton teams up with jazz artist Caroline Henderson for Love Songs on June 15.  A mixed bill including Rushton’s Kridt, Enigma, and CaDance will be performed in Jerusalem on June 17 and in Modi’in on June 18.

For more information about programming and ticketing, visit the Israel Festival’s website.

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Batsheva Dance Company: The Evolution of Ohad Naharin’s “Sadeh21”

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Photo: Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh21. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Watching Batsheva Dance Company in an open rehearsal of Ohad Naharin’s latest creation, I was keenly aware that evolution is at play.  Sadeh21 – literally Field21 – is roughly 6 weeks into its genesis, and it is scheduled to premiere at the Sherover Theatre as part of the Israel Festival in Jerusalem on May 25, 2011.  Dressed informally in their own clothes, the troupe’s twenty members showed a sizable segment of the work to a crowd of journalists in Studio Varda on April 13.

During a few sections, Naharin called out instructions to the dancers, highlighting the element of change that is part and parcel of the creative process. And indeed, in the six weeks between now and its premiere, Sadeh21 will no doubt undergo many changes. What we writers will see in May will bear a resemblance to its forerunner, but it will look decidedly different. Onstage, there will be choreographic sections that we have not yet viewed and alterations to what we did watch – additions, subtractions, refinements. Naharin noted that he and the cast have paid special attention to the interpretation of the work, which will certainly deepen with time. And in the theater, Sadeh21’s full staging will be revealed, including lighting by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi) and costumes by Ariel Cohen.


Photo: Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh21. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Yet even at this early point of its development, Sadeh21 is rich with layers.  The composition juxtaposes solos and duets with larger ensembles, clean lines and formations with an organic chaos that, when featuring all twenty dancers, brings to mind the image of children gleefully tearing across a playground.  Sometimes a particular structural motif surfaces, the clarity of form enhancing the strength of a section as it unfolds.  And throughout, the movement captivates and surprises.  Bodies extend to their furthest points and then contract, speedily changing shape with seemingly no preparation and referencing motions both familiar and novel.  These dancers may have the same flesh and bone makeup as the rest of us, but at times they appear to be pure liquid, poured into constantly shifting molds.

Naharin’s movement language, Gaga, has been used as a toolbox throughout the construction of Sadeh21, and traces of the ideas explored in classes are visible to viewers who have taken Gaga.  Several women slink into their own gentle grooves before periodically convening to start a small gesture in unison – clapping, tracing a circle in the air with one finger, making a fist and punching, pushing the pelvis upwards from a crablike crouch.  Keeping the same tempo, the dancers gradually increase the size of the movement until it is as big as possible, enlisting more and more of their bodies until every part is contributing to the effort.  While the movement can be silly, it is sophisticated, imbued with pleasure in the discovery of new options and laced with humor.  Both a woman pattering offstage on all fours with her tail in the air and a man hopping across the space with one leg tucked up flamingo-style bring a smile to my face; a woman rhythmically lifting her hips in a long and winding march endears herself to me.

It’s not just the clever, sometimes lighthearted physicality that stirs my feelings in this version of Sadeh21.  The interactions between the dancers – from simple looks to tender clasps of hands to more intricately designed contact – resonate with a range of emotions.  And when a man tilts his face up, assumes an optimistic expression and high-pitched tone, and verbalizes sweetly in an invented language, I can’t understand what he is saying.  But I am nevertheless drawn to him, and I find myself responding with laughter, affection, and a touch of concern as he is forcibly removed to the side of the stage.


Photo: Ohad Naharin’s
Sadeh21. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Somehow, the emotional power of the dance seems closer to the surface in Sadeh21, more readily available and potent than in some of Naharin’s recent creations such as MAX (2007) and Hora (2009).  From this viewing, it seems that the work may share the epic tone and theatrical prowess that enthralled audiences in Naharin’s earlier productions for the Israel Festival, including Kyr (1990) and Z/na (1995).  It may well be that in Sadeh21, Naharin has gathered the fruits of his artistic research over his twenty-one years at the helm of Batsheva – the more overtly dramatic sensibility that characterized his large-scale works from the 1990s and the cornucopia of physical possibilities gleaned through Gaga – and married them together.   Sadeh21’s own evolution will continue in the womb of the studio during the next six weeks, and knowing Naharin’s ongoing engagement with his creations, the work will certainly change further as it lives in performance.  I for one am interested in seeing the dance in its next developmental stages – and in contemplating its place in Naharin’s artistic evolution.

Performance Information

Batsheva Dance Company will premiere Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh21 during the Israel Festival at Jerusalem’s Sherover Theatre on May 25-27, 2011.  Additional performances include May 31-June 4 (Herzliya Performing Arts Centre), June 5 (Modi’in Performing Arts Centre), June 9-11 (Suzanne Dellal Centre), and June 13 (Carmiel Performing Arts Centre).

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