Ohad Naharin. Photo by Gadi Dagon.
Since 1981, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award has been bestowed annually on luminaries of the dance world. From Martha Graham (the first recipient) to Laura Dean (the 2008 recipient), selected choreographers have won this prize with their lifelong devotion to building and shaping their art form. The honorees have pioneered new techniques and ventured into unfamiliar compositional territory. Out of their experiments emerged choreography that was not only groundbreaking but masterful.
With the exceptions of Pina Bausch and Maguy Marin, the Scripps recipients have been American or based in the United States. This year, though, a third choreographer from abroad will receive the award: Ohad Naharin. The award presentation will take place on June 25th at ADF in Durham, North Carolina.
Naharin, the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, has left an indelible impact not only on the troupe he leads but on the larger Israeli dance scene. Yet as his selection for the Scripps award suggests, Naharin’s influence is also felt beyond Israel’s borders.
Indeed, Naharin’s work has spread worldwide. Major companies including the Nederlans Dans Theater and the New York-based Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet have performed his critically acclaimed and captivating choreography. Juilliard students have learned several of Naharin’s works over the years, while young dancers in Sweden recently presented Kamuyot. And of course, the Batsheva Dance Company itself has toured around the globe with a tempting menu of Naharin’s visual delights.