The Walker and Northrop asked local dance historian Judith Brin Ingber to share her insights about the upcoming performance of Batsheva Dance Company’s performance of Shalosh (Three) on Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30 pm.
(on behalf of Judith Brin Ingber)
The big thing in dance circles right now is the 100th anniversary celebration with many companies in many countries recognizing the genius of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, which premiered on May 19th, 1909 in Paris. Batsheva is coming before May 19th but it is interesting to compare the two concepts put forth by the two companies.
At the opening of the 20th Century we were forced to consider all kinds of revolutionary ideas in dance regarding gender (the great solo dancer Nijinsky toyed with androgyny such as playing the rose in the Ballets Russes “Spectre de la rose”). There were revolutionary composers such as Stravinsky or the “French Six” and dancers couldn’t count the new music and the audience was rumored to sometimes throw tomatoes because of their discomfort. Sometimes there were characters from history or stories based on fables like Petrouchka or Scheherazade. There could be short ballets too, which could mean perhaps three on a program rather than a long fairy tale evening of one ballet. (Note: I hope our readers were able to see the recent James Sewell Ballet production of “Petrouchka” choreographed by Sally Rousse, which had it’s own contemporary twists).
Why do I bring all this up regarding Batsheva’s performance at Northrop next Wednesday at 7:30? Because in a way we haven’t coped with Diaghilev’s revolution that started 100 years ago and now we will be challenged by Ohad Naharin’s. He is the director and master choreographer of the Tel Aviv based company which has a breathtaking international schedule. Narahin’s luminary reputation is also international and his works can be seen in other companies besides his own. We will be seeing “Shalosh” with 17 dancers on a plain stage in 70 minutes of dance.
So what are some of the challenging ideas for an audience member concerning gender, music, costume or lack of, technique and meaning?
Looking to and at the relations shown between the dancers might show casual genderless connections though on closer look I would dispute that impression. The duets and unison show a humanity without stars or divas. The dancers depict no particular character and there seem to be no reference points for narration or meaningful gestures to ground the movement in a certain place or time. What exists are fleeting flavors and personal lexicon. There are three sections which have individual character and the total must account for the title “Three” or “Shalosh” in Hebrew. Ideas of beauty, unison, sensuality and virtuosity all have new interpretations in the hands of Naharin. What does a choreographer do to upset the way dancers find their center and their power and consequently the way we measure technique? The quilt of music thrown over the dance or sometimes quietly under it also is something to consider. Come to the concert to test your ideas of what is newest in the look of dance. It will be a provocative and marvelous evening for you.
Judith Brin Ingber
Judith Brin Ingber is a local dance historian taking part in “A Conversation About Batsheva” in Northrop’s Studio 4 from 6:30 – 7:15 pm, a discussion amongst William and Nadine McGuire Senior Curator, Performing Arts, Philip Bither; and Northrop Director, Ben Johnson. This preview is in association with Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, Walker Art Center, and Northrop Dance.