Bits and pieces
The genial mambos that greeted the audience as we entered the Sadler’s Wells auditorium were a world away from the animosity hurled at us as we’d waited outside the theatre in a vast queue to get in.
The Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Ensemble is the junior company of the internationally renowned Batsheva Dance Company and, like their elder sibling, they tend to attract vitriolic, though thankfully non-violent, protests when they perform. The rights or wrongs of this need to be placed in the wider context of the recently escalated Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is therefore best left (possibly) for those with a fuller grip of the deeply-complex issues involved; ie, not here.
The Ensemble itself is filled with highly commendable, mostly Israeli, dancers between the ages of 18-24. They work alongside the senior company dancers where they participate in Artistic Director Ohad Naharin’s Gaga technique, a method that particularly develops the performers’ skills of working in unison.
Understandably, you’d think, Deca Dance (an ever-changing compilation of Naharin’s ‘greatest hits’ from his 20 years with the Batsheva company) has plenty of large ensemble pieces that demonstrate the company’s prowess in unilateralism. But, as slick and impeccably timed as these numbers are, they have all the heart and soul of a Jennifer Lopez pop video.
It’s the smaller routines that have the most impact. A cod-mediaeval duet is tender and absorbing, there’s a fun piece where some guys bounce up and down to Goldfrapp but the best part of the whole show is a wonderful routine for five men that’s laced with exciting jumps and overtly homoerotic duets.
Rather like the fact that any decent music group’s ‘greatest hits’ will never be their greatest album, so Deca Dance suffers from music that veers wildly between genre and from abstract narratives that bear no relation to each other. The result is a hotch-potch of pieces that rarely reach under the surface of anything. And don’t get me started on the ‘please like us’ audience participation routine.
Deca Dance runs at Sadler’s Wells until 21 November 2012 (and it’s undeniably an experience, even just to get into the theatre) and tickets can be bought at http://www.sadlerswells.com/