Batsheva Dance Company: Last Work

Like languorous animals, suddenly pouncing; like edgy hyperactive aliens; like crazy-joyful-depressed zombies; like the best birthday gift to myself ever — these are the inchoate thoughts crowding my head as I left the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night. How to describe a performance by Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company? Best to keep it to the wild jumble of metaphors that these incredible dancers are — and you can thank Mr. Gaga for that! (The documentary of the same name is on my must-see list.) Batsheva’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin, created the unusual and fascinating Gaga technique to help his dancers expand beyond their familiar bounds of movement. I tried to write about Gaga in my last post about Batsheva. What I didn’t say was how much I would love to study it myself. As a writer and artist, experiencing the new way of seeing and moving in the world that Gaga explores seems thrilling — and a little scary (for all the right reasons.) Tonight’s performance of Last Work was a veritable feast of the movement language in action. You have not seen a human being truly move until you have witnessed a Batsheva performance. Every single dancer is a wonder — every articulation of bone, muscle, and sinew a revelation. If there was a meaning to the evening’s performance, it was not clear to me. I do know that I sat in tense attention as one dancer ran in place the entire 65 minutes, while 17 other dancers created combinations of calm, collaborative, and chaotic encounters on stage. Perhaps it was political? Perhaps sexual? Perhaps both? And does it really matter when the pure unbridled pleasure of movement is what I will most remember? Perhaps the deeper meaning of the piece was simply about being fully alive.

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