November 16, 2014
The shows literally starts with a bang. With no announcement or warning, a huge crashing sound emanates from the speakers at the house lights blackout, to stage lights up and Sadeh21 begins. This piece by the Batsheva Dance Company is a mix of intense, captivating, and immensely pleasant sequences. Each section (or “Sadeh”) is decisively original, yet fits together perfectly. As the developer of the Gaga style of dance, Ohad Naharin‘s choreography reflects the larger than life organic movement that Gaga promotes.
Vocalizations and projections add texture to the already compelling movement. Naharin is particularly skilled in presenting simple ideas then playing within the boundaries he has set. A great example of this happens in a moment where dancer Adi Ziatin stands downstage staring right at the audience- confronting them. She begins to articulate what, in the moment, seems like a random organization of the numbers one through five. She repeats this specific pattern of numbers and just as the pattern becomes familiar to the audience, dancers enter the stage and group themselves in ways that reflect the numbers being called out. First Nararin established a vocal pattern, then he laid out how those numbers affect the dancers, and within that structure he then begins to play with tempo, levels, and quality of movement. Taking a small idea and blowing it out until it is fully heightened is a choreographic gift that is present throughout this work. This mix of complex movements and simple repetitions, layer meaning and intent to each section of the piece.
Ultimately the most satisfying moment comes right at the end. After a score comprised of a woman screaming, for what feels like an eternity, the dance transitions to a tranquil space. The dance takes place within a white room built on stage, with the back wall extending up only a fraction of the height provided by the BAM Opera House. As the screaming ends, dancers begin to crawl onto the top of the wall, stand there for a brief moment, then release their bodies and fall to an unseen void. The first person falls and soon there is a constant stream of dancers crawling onto the wall and then falling off or eventually diving into the unknown behind the wall. As this fluid stream of ups and downs continues the credits begin to roll on the wall where they projected each Sadeh title. It is a overwhelmingly pleasant way to cap of a visceral and thought-provoking performance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller