Batsheva enthralls audiences during the Lincoln Center Festival 2003 with exquisite energy and illusion in artistic director Ohad Narharin's 90 minute spectacle "ANAPHAZA".
By SARAH CARLSON
The human body grows and regenerates through a process
called cellular mitosis. This means of cell division
that we all share, that unites us biologically, is
also one that continuously separates us at a
microscopic level. Ohad Naharin's ANAPHAZA is named
after a phase of mitosis in which the very essence of
what defines us as individuals, our chromosomes,
shifts to opposite ends of the nucleus in preparation
for division. An Israeli grown dance company,
Batsheva is intimately acquainted with how it feels to
be internally divided. ANAPHAZA investigates this
theme in an explosively engaging tour de force
comprised of high-powered dance and no small bag of
Live drums open the show with a bang only to be
surprisingly dwarfed by a pyrotechnic thunderclap.
The dancers appear as if by magic standing with chairs
that form a large arc spanning the stage. The sheer
number of dancers is impressive, all identically
dressed in traditional orthodox uniform, black suits
and black hats. Almost always in unison, a vigorous
gestural repetition ensues broken only by a body wave
that dominos down the line of chairs. Amidst the
drumming, the dancers begin to rise up in chorus
singing a traditional Passover song while stripping
off, piece by piece, their outer garb. Overt
rejection of convention permeates the evening.
|Choreography by: Ohad Naharin.|
Dancers: Eldad, Ben-Sasson, Jeremy Bernheim, Caroline Boussard, Stefan Ferry, Kristin Francke, Youshifumi Inao, Roi Itzhak Halevy, Luc Jacobs, Gili Navot, Inbar Nemirovsky, Chisato Ohno, Rachael Osborne, Maya Weiser, Inbal Yaacobi, Arkadi Zaides, Noa Zouk, Yaniv Abraham, Matan David, Florencia Lamarca, Talia Landa, Shi Pratt, Guy Shomroni, Gavriel Spitzer.
Costumes by: Rakefet Levi.
|New York State Theater|
20 Lincoln Center
July 23-26, 2003
A lone man suspended sideways instructs us on the
illusion of reality and the precariousness of our
perception of it. The cast undresses to reveal
industrial leotards, a type of rubber corset that
exhouds a rough and tough vulnerability. Darkened eyes
make the dancers look like eerie corpses that are
alive still. Slow, wirey movement transfixes the
audience into a hypnotic show of drugged marionettes.
A surrealistic underworld emerges constantly
surprising with unforeseen interruptions.
Mr. Naharin appears in a long red dress and black top
hat. His voice reverberates as deeply as his electric
guitar as he sings and speaks at a lone mic, nightclub
style. Out comes a bald, towering MC in a gown of
silver sequins. House lights come up and with total
deadpan, the MC requests the audience to stand and sit
according to different criteria. The proscenium has
been breached but not broken. Yet.|
Everything about ANAPHASA has a dualistic quality. The
movement is twisted yet engaging, indeed mesmerizing.
The performers maintain a strictly serious demeanor
even while being outrageously funny. Nothing is as it
seems. Is this legitimate art or a freak show?
Just when the show threatens to burst at the seems,
however, the energy is cut with expert authority.
Naharin is a master of pacing and feeds the audience
one tantalizing tidbit after another. Two
exceptionally beautiful female solos are worth
mentioning. The first begins when a lone woman rushes
the stage with arms outstretched circling loftily like a
bird in flight. She lands into a delicate string of
supple movements that ride the piano and violin
accompaniment with grace and serenity. The second
involves a suspended video projection that slowly
lowers to reveal a woman in space. The projection
ripples and sculpts itself onto the contours of her
naked form. Nature scenes, crowds of people, and
intricate geometric patterns paint themselves
vibrantly on a living canvas in an exceptionally
Without fanfare, Naharin forges a great
reunification. The cast unceremoniously crosses the divide of illusion into reality by stepping off the stage into the house.
Like clockwork, as if normal performance etiquette,
each dancer chooses an audience member and
twenty-four tremendously good sports suddenly find themselves
on a stage many trained performers spend their whole
careers trying to attain. With deceptive ease, the audience members are incorporated into the framework of the piece. At once innovative and charming, this dance with the audience is one of the
most moving of the night.
Naharin boldly challenges convention to attain the
unexpected. Nonlinear by nature, ANAPHAZA fits
together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle, piece by
piece forming an exquisite canvas of absurd and divine.
|JULY 30, 2003|
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