Review – Deca Dance

Oct 31 2012 | By More

* * * * *

Festival Theatre
October 30-31 2012

It’s not exactly a new decade, but it is a sparkling new Deca Dance that the Batsheva Ensemble have brought to the Festival Theatre for two shows this week, before embarking on a seven-stop tour of English theatres.

Batsheva Ensemble, the younger wing of the Batsheva Dance Company

Batsheva Ensemble, the younger wing of the Batsheva Dance Company

From the twitching, intimate solo performance – which starts even before all the audience have taken their seats – through to the big closing number which builds movement upon movement and thrusts it round a circle, this is a company that oozes confidence and inclusion.

This is dance which has no external narrative, which tells no particular tale, but which speaks loudly and exuberantly of the wonder and joy of dance itself.

Deca Dance is a portmanteau work, and one which changes over time. It is created out of excerpts from works by Batsheva’s choreographer and artistic director Ohad Naharin. Fragments and parts of larger works, edited and remixed, create an even bigger piece with its own internal coherence.

This incarnation sees the youth wing of the Batsheva Dance Company take on the work. There’s a real boot-camp feel to them, with combat trousers, vests and desert boots the uniform for the opening section.

With the whole company ranged deep across the stage, individuals break out into quirky angular movements. These are seemingly random inflections of the whole group, like sparks from a live wire dangling in the rain. Yet, out of nowhere, huge waves of unison movement appear, denying any idea of random generation.

The twitching of a finger

And suddenly the whole company is at the front of the stage, a triangle of bodies moving as one, so that the focus has moved from the huge space of the Festival Theatre stage right down to the twitching of a finger.

Batsheva Ensemble, the younger wing of the Batsheva Dance Company

Batsheva Ensemble, the younger wing of the Batsheva Dance Company

It is this ability to focus and refocus which excites the eye. Naharin has a strong sense of form and coherence, creating patterns and waves of grounded movement out of his much-vaunted Gaga style of dance.

It is his love of loud and extreme juxtapositions of music which delights the ear. At times the dance becomes a meditative contemplation, carried out to a near-silent soundtrack of solo tradition instruments – at others, it is driven by the buzz of Dick Dale’s surf guitar. Vivaldi, hardcore techno or swinging lounge music can as easily provide the soundtrack. Often in a single piece.

In one segment – previously seen at the EIF with Nederlands Dans Theater – a dozen black-suit and hatted dancers leave the stage to choose partners from the audience.

The resulting piece, with 11 highly choreographed professional dancers, and 11 random audience members doing their own thing, is something of a metaphor for the company as a whole. Indeed, it is the epitome of Gaga, which does not just provide a basis for the dance moves but is also a for non-performing dancers.

A stunning performance of a thoroughly entertaining piece of dance.

Run ends Wednesday 31 October

Tour website:

The performance was interrupted several times by protesters. A report of that issue is here:

Autumn tour 2012:

30 – 31 Oct Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
2 – 3 Nov Salford
The Lowry
0843 208 6000 Book online
6 – 7 Nov Bradford
01274 432 000 Book online
9 Nov Brighton
01273 709 709 Book online
13 – 14 Nov Birmingham
0844 338 5000 Book online
16 Nov Leicester
Curve Theatre
0116 242 3595 Book online
19 – 21 Nov London
Sadler’s Wells
0844 412 4300 Book online
23 – 24 Nov Plymouth
Theatre Royal
01752 267222 Book online


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