Pomegranate Arts announces our first collaboration with Batsheva Dance Company, one of the word’s preeminent dance companies under the direction of Ohad Naharin. Known for his compelling choreographic craft and inventive textured movement, Naharin is widely considered to be one of the great dance pioneers of his generation. Based in Tel Aviv, the eighteen dancers of Batsheva are cast globally and are trained by Naharin in his signature movement language coined “Gaga.” Batsheva return to North America in Spring 2017 with “Last Work”, a new evening-length work by Naharin.
“Last Work” is breathtaking for the extraordinary dancing by the Batsheva dancers, and the way Mr. Naharin can evoke states of pleasure, pain, madness and a kind of animality— a sheer state of being in the body- through his movement.
In "Last Work", Naharin explores the body's motion at its most humane reflecting the infinite spectrum of emotion that stems from the politics of our time. Berlin-based electronic music producer, Grischa Lichtenberger collaborated with Naharin to create original music with stage design by Zohar Shoef, lighting design by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi) and costumes by Eri Nakamura.
“Last Work” is the most recent large scale evening length work (70 minutes) by Ohad Noharin for the Batsheva Dance Company. It was created in Spring 2015 over a ten-week intensive rehearsal process with the 18 members of the Batsheva Dance Company, most of whom have danced for Batsheva for several years. As typical of Naharin’s process, the work in the studio involves structured practice and explorations of Gaga, Naharin’s original movement vocabulary.
“Last Work” premiered in Tel Aviv, Israel at the company’s resident theater The Suzanne Dellal Center on June 1, 2015. The work was co-commissioned by Hellerau- European Center for the Arts, Dresden, Germany and the Montpellier Danse Festival who hosted its international premieres.
Since 1970, Batsheva has conducted 26 tours in the USA, performing in theaters across the country and establishing relationships with audiences. Over the decades, Batsheva has maintained a strong connection with the dance world in the USA – it's first Artistic Advisor was Martha Graham (1964 – 1974), and many American choreographers created work for the company in the following decades such as Glen Tetley, José Limon, Gene Hill Sagan, Anna Sokolow, Paul Sandardo, Daniel Ezralaw, David Parsons, Mark Morris, Doug Elkins and others.
Gaga, the movement language developed by Ohad Naharin throughout his work as a choreographer and Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company, has become known worldwide in its two tracks: Gaga/Dancers, based on the daily training of Batsheva Dance Company members, taught to dancers in Israel and abroad; and Gaga/People, open to the public and available for all including those without previous dance experience. One of Batsheva's missions while on tour is to introduce and offer Gaga classes to the local professional dance community, as well as to the wider public. In North America, Batsheva company members will be teaching Gaga workshops in most cities whenever schedules allow. In other markets, Gaga workshops may be arranged in advance by Saar Harari of LeeSaar Dance based in New York City. A longtime collaborator of Ohad Naharin, Harari maintains the license to teach Gaga workshops in the United States.
Over the course of their 45 year touring history in America, Batsheva has developed a devoted following both among dance connoisseurs and the casual occasional performance attendee. Admiring their unique virtuosity, passion, and visceral quality of their athleticism, audiences rely on choreographer Ohad Naharin to deliver a mysterious and provocative work that will stay with them long after the performance ends. There is a palpable power and intensity to a Batsheva performance that is uniquely of its time and place. “Last Work” is true to this history and for long time Batsheva fans, it will likely represent a recognizable exploration of Naharin’s ongoing movement language and a more direct thematic composition of the complex politics of our time.
“Last Work” is propelled by a dramatic build-up of tension ranging from tranquil and meditative scenes, to a full explosion of energies, a global political context about the power of individuality versus the power of the group, the dangers of tribal behavior, the cruelty and stupidity of violence. This particularly challenging content has stuck viewers worldwide and promises to equally resonate in North America as well.
Ohad Naharin is dedicated to maintaining a sustainable world class dance company consisting of a 18 full time dancers, a junior level training company (The Batsheva Young Ensemble) and a year round dedicated administrative and production staff. The entire company of senior level dancers typically tours with Naharin’s full length works, and “Last Work” is in keeping with this touring model. Requiring a large proscenium hall with a sprung floor and day before load-in, “Last Work” is a work of scale requiring a significant commitment from the North American presenter partners. Sustaining a touring company and production of this scale requires the collaboration of some of the most prominent and respected performing arts centers in North America dedicated to cultural exchange and premiering major new international work.
The fees required to sustain a company and production of this scale are challenging, and there are several strategies in place to support both the company and presenters. For “Last Work”, Pomegranate Arts worked with a four-city consortium of Canadian cites to form the company’s largest Canadian tour to date. These four presenters tapped into designated funding from the Israeli Consulate to help cover local expenses to make the Canadian dates possible. Subsequently, by combining the US dates to the Canadian tour, Batsheva garnered support from the Cultural Ministry of Israel to fund international airfare and freight to and from North America.
In addition, the company performed an additional work, Decadance in Toronto, Costa Mesa, and Minneapolis. Decadance is a popular evening of excerpts from larger works chosen by Ohad Naharin as an introduction to Batsheva’s work for new and broad audiences. This strategy allows for a tighter touring schedule allowing additional cities to be added to the North American tour while the freight for "Last Work" is able travel from the East to the West Coast.