The Arty Semite

'Hora' to the 'MAX' With Batsheva

By Stacey Menchel Kussell

  • Print
  • Share Share

Photo by Gadi Dagon

Yaara Moses, like many other little girls growing up in Jerusalem, wore tutus, danced ballet, modern, and of course, Israeli folk dances. When she was 11 years old her mother took her to see Batsheva Dance Company perform Ohad Naharin’s “Anaphaza.” It was an experience that changed her life.

“My jaw dropped. It was different than any other dance I had seen,” Moses said in an interview with The Arty Semite. “There was so much power, grace, and humor. It moved something in me.”

Guy Shomroni, who started dancing as a teenager in Tel Aviv, felt equally compelled the first time he saw Naharin’s choreography. “It was truly unique. It was as if the movement was some type of extra-communication.”

Moses and Shomroni both joined the Batsheva Dance Company in 2005, and continue to be inspired by Naharin’s evocative movement style. This month they come to the U.S. on a tour featuring two of his recent pieces, “Hora” and “MAX.”

“Hora” which opens Wednesday, March 7 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is an exuberant evening-length work. Arranged by the famed electronic musician Isao Tomita, the score features a blend of music from classical to space age: Strauss and Debussy are intermixed with John Williams’s “Star Wars” theme.

In typical Naharin-style, the choreography is dynamic and eclectic. The 11 dancers are dressed in black tank tops, shorts, and leggings; they jut their heads like birds, wiggle with reckless abandon, and then halt in sharp ballet poses. “The synthesizer brings out amazing extremes,” said Moses. “There is an intense drama, violence, and humor with the shortest transition.”

An experienced folk dancer, Moses thinks that “Hora” contains folk-inspired elements, and that it explores the relationship between the individual and the group. “But the piece is not a direct comment on the traditional Hora,” said Moses. “‘Hora’ initially was about the sound of the word, which has meaning in many languages,” added Shomroni. “There is never just one story in Ohad’s pieces — that is the beauty of it.”

Filled with rigorous, athletic sequences, “MAX” — being performed in cities around the U.S. throughout March — displays a visceral intensity. The score is a soundscape filled with dissonant noises: drum beats against metal, chanting, and a deep male voice counting in an invented language. In some scenes there is powerful unison. The 19 dancers, costumed in shorts and tanks, huddle together shaking in frenetic gestures. In other sections, one dancer bends and twists waiting for another to introduce the next step.

“It’s a very collaborative experience,” said Shomroni about the creation of “MAX” and “Hora.” “Ohad plays with our movements and then researches the possibilities.”

The idea of choreography as movement research is integral to the philosophy of Gaga, Ohad Naharin’s movement language and the current training platform of Batsheva. Trained in Gaga for over a decade, Shomroni and Moses find that the technique has radically improved their dancing.

“Gaga is a true revolution in movement,” said Moses who now also teaches the technique. “Now I know how to understand my rhythms and patterns, my fears and blockages. Now I finally know how to let go.”

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yaara Moses, Stacey Menchel Kussell, Ohad Naharin, MAX, Hora, Guy Shomroni, Dance, Batsheva

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.