Last updated December 14th 2015
Powerful choreographers and the amazing dancers of the Batsheva Ensemble promise an exciting evening of dance. Danielle Agami, a former dancer with Batsheva who has already created the intriguing Shula for the Ensemble, will premiere her new work And Still; and Sharon Eyal has created a new 30 minute version of Bill, which the Batsheva Dance Company premiered in 2010.
A presentation of select scenes in Batsheva’s Varda Studio reveals And Still to be a work of intensity and beauty, as one might expect from an artist such as Agami. Addressing the audience, Agami revealed that the work “might or might not” be performed to music, and discussed her thoughts on the issue:
“There is a kind of conditioning that music and dance must go together. Perhaps we, the viewers, are the ones who need the music, and the dance does not require it. It’s a question that has interested me for many years and perhaps now I’ll take it all the way… Why do we [feel] that we must have music with movement and otherwise it is not ‘dance.’ It [this way of thinking] is an invention, a cliché and a habit… [performing without music] opens many options. I think it gives credit to the audience and offers them a challenge. Without this dominant addition they can take off to the distance, somewhere perhaps more intimate, private. I hope that we all would have the ability to listen with sensitivity, delicacy and availablility. We are always talking about it, but how do we make it possible, how do we realize it? I am not cancelling the genre, but utilizing the ability to look at the tools available and to make a choice.”
Agami further noted that the process of choreographing And Still and working with the dancers began with music, she did not create the dance on silence. Once she removed the music, it entailed changes. For example, the placement within the work of any movement that makes a noise suddenly becomes dramatic, and from the choreographer’s perspective she may need to consider whether she wishes this moment to be dramatic or not.
As for the dancers, Agami said, “It affects them very much…we began with music and then I took something out. Yesterday we talked and some said it was hard for them and I said: ‘that’s good.’ If we don’t move forward as individuals, dancers, artists – then it’s a pity that we came to this encounter. So I think it’s OK that we challenge one another. It’s important for a dancer to able to hold – even totally alone – onstage without any help [such as the support of music to engage the audience]. I am giving them something that I have experience with and something I really like to do as a performer and I am glad to share that with them. It’s something that is fun to do, fun to succeed with, and to feel comfortable with it – it’s a lot.”
However, make no mistake – this deep introspection does not mean that Agami has forgotten that there is an audience out there. She reminded the audience of journalists and other viewers that we had been shown only brief selections from the work, and that the work as a whole includes “solutions” to the difficulty of this unusual encounter with a dance piece that is not set to music.
“I don’t want to hurt the audience,” she stated, “I don’t want to part angry or sad. The goal is not to shout out loud and walk away… that’s really not interesting.”
At the time of the presentation, the premiere was a week away, and the issue of music with or without was still undecided. In this spirit, Agami closed the discussion with a promise of “surprises.”
The second part of the evening will be a new version of Sharon Eyal’s Bill, edited and set on the Batsheva Ensemble by Sharon Eyal. I have only accolades for Bill – “an experience at once ultra contemporary and primal; charged with allusive imagery and movement. (read the full review here)
And Still and Bill will premiere on December 17, 2015. Performance dates, times and ticket purchase may be found on the Batsheva Dance Company website.