Batsheva’s Sadeh21

Coming to BAM Nov. 12–15 is Batsheva Dance Company with its astonishing Sadeh21. I just saw it at CAP UCLA’s Royce Hall and can’t wait to see it again.

Sadeh21, photo by Gadi Dagon, Courtesy CAP UCLA

Sadeh21, photo by Gadi Dagon, Courtesy CAP UCLA

From the moment the first dancer enters with her solo, you feel that scraping kind of rawness that is a signature of Batsheva. Each dancer seems to be wringing her or his body out, trying to empty oneself of something pernicious. And yet they are in control. The refrain in gaga sessions, “Connect pleasure to effort,” is embodied in every movement.  What I find miraculous is that what looks like yanking the body open also feels organic. The dancers connect one drastic movement to the next, creating a flow, not just shoving their bodies into shapes. And through this yanking, this rude whipping and clipping, you get to know each dancer as an individual.

Sadeh21 (meaning 21 movement studies, though the choreography goes way beyond studies) plays with time and expectation. After the first six solos, you wonder if the whole dance will be solos. (It isn’t; it blossoms into beautiful trios and groups.) During these solos, the term “Sadeh1” is projected on the backdrop…and you wait a long time for “Sadeh2.” But Naharin makes an accordion of time, so the whole dance lasts only 75 minutes.

He plays with expectations in textures too. After the first few fast & furious solos, Rachael Osborne dances slow in such a magnificent way that you melt along with her. And when all the men put their hands on each other’s shoulders, as in a folk dance, again everything slows down and gets divinely simple.

If you can, join me on November 14, when I will be moderating the Iconic Artist Talk with Naharin before the show.

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