An Ode to Batsheva's Dancers
The members of Batsheva Dance Company look dangerous, predatory. They're feral cats, at once totally in control and totally wild. You feel like they're always on the verge of boiling over—always just about to explode.
I saw these creatures perform Batsheva director Ohad Naharin's Hora at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night. And though the work, like all of Naharin's pieces, was a good time—darkly funny, set to synthesized snippets of very familiar melodies (the Star Wars theme, anyone? or maybe a little "kill the wabbit" Wagner?)—it was the dancers who knocked the wind out of me.
While they're fantastic movers, the Batsheva dancers aren't all technicians in a traditional sense. I don't think I'd want to see most of them in a ballet class. Then again, maybe I would: They make you want to watch them do ANYTHING. I would gladly watch the hypnotic Iyar Elezra tie her shoes for hours. She's a tractor beam—you're immediately drawn in. And there's something fascinating about the way all the dancers arrive at positions. There's no balletic "here-I-go-from-point-A-to-point-B." They settle into a shape the way you might wriggle into a pair of jeans: a few calculated adjustments before everything zips together.
The most remarkable parts of Hora—of any of Naharin's pieces, really—are when the dancers move in unison. They harmonize well; there's zero confusion about what the choreography is supposed to look like, and a current of electricity runs from body to body, connecting them all. Yet every dancer's treatment of each phrase is utterly his or her own. They somehow embody both community and individuality at the same time. How is that not an oxymoron? I don't know. But it isn't.
A lot of the Batsheva dancers' unique qualities come out of Gaga, a movement language Naharin invented (years before Lady Gaga came around, for the record). Gaga is all about self-awareness and visualization; verbal instructions like "imagine the floor is getting very hot" or simply "thick" inspire ways of moving. Naharin often has his dancers improvise as he choreographs, giving them a prompt and letting them go. So watching parts of his dances is like doing a puzzle backwards: What instruction did Naharin give that generated all these different responses?
As you can probably tell, I'm having a hard time putting my finger on what it is, exactly, that makes these dancers so extraordinary. And in dance, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is worth 1,000,000. So here are some excerpts from Hora. See the magic for yourself:
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)
So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.
The coolest place she's ever performed:
I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!
Something she's constantly working on:
My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'
My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.