Dance as the Common Language
Company gets the audience movin’ and groovin’

It is not often that dance can be so potent and performed with such passion that the viewer leaves feeling they have encountered something spectacular. Batsheva Dance Company presented a program that traveled such a spectrum of themes and emotions from pure beauty to the shock of the grotesque and everything in between.

Deca Dance included nine dances that were seamlessly blended without apparent narrative, aside from the human condition. Each dance explored a new world and transformed into something entirely different. From high brow post-modernism to gritty camp humor, the dancers charmed the audience. This was especially entertaining when the dancers descended from the stage and stalked out a few unfortunate audience members who were chosen for participation. On stage the audience members participated admirably in a cha-cha, a tango, and a cheek-to-cheek slow dance. This brought the house down as the rest of the audience rose to their feet in sympathetic delight.

Beginning the evening, the dancers, dressed in black and white, introduced Naharin’s movement style with explosive dynamic convulsions and ecstatic gestures danced by each of the 17-member Israeli company.

Later, five men participate in a primal initiation ritual. They rub muddy paint on their face and bare chests and join in a high-energy dance with runs, leaps, and rolls. Duets emerge both violent and vulnerable, risky and thought-provoking until a femme fatale on stilts growls a cabaret ballad, a seemingly awkward juxtaposition, but maybe only for our western sensibility.

One of the evening’s most powerful sections shows the full company generically dressed in black suits seated on chairs. In unison the dancers perform movements of despair, pain, grief, hopelessness, and beauty, and with each repetition, they take off an item of clothing until they are only in undergarments walking towards the audience with a quizzical look.

In another section, the female company members glide through the space in a contemplative dance, stopping in various shapes of seduction and repose. They are matter-of-fact about their sensuality and strong in their solidarity, ending in a close group where the sound of a metronome indicates the passage of time.

The dancers move with full-bodied intent and are breathtaking in their abilities that show unpredictable clarity. Naharin’s work is constructed with such depth of feeling and distillation of movement; it is like understanding another language without really knowing what the actual words are.

Batsheva Dance Company • Spoleto Festival USA • $25-$80 • (1 hour 40 min) • May 27 at 8 p.m.; May 27, 28 at 2 p.m. • Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. • 579-3100