The sound of the Kyrie, eleison juxtaposed with the word ‘Venezuela’ pierces my heart. And I didn’t even cross the threshold into Royce Hall’s cathedral-like lobby yet. That’s how affecting a performance by the game-changing Israeli dance maker, Ohad Naharin, can be. Israel’s esteemed dance company, Batsheva, returns to Royce with a new evening-length work, Venezuela, in which Naharin and the dancers explore the dialogue and conflict between movement and the content it represents.
Naharin created Venezuela in two 40-minute sections placed in juxtaposition. In this multifaceted and compelling work, the endless possibilities of a choreographer’s craft are at play and, in turn, Venezuela compels the audience to challenge their own freedom of choice.
And speaking of Martha Graham, as we have been for the past two weeks, Naharin, who was more or less discovered by Graham and whose company Graham had a large hand in creating, inherited Graham’s mantle as one of the great dance influencers of his generation. Batsheva’s senior company of eighteen dancers are trained by Naharin in his original movement language called Gaga.
Gaga and Naharin are the subjects of a documentary, Mr. Gaga (2015), among whose talking heads is our own Gina Buntz, who worked with Naharin back in the day and whom he openly praises as a key influence. Mr. Gaga will screen on Thursday March 14, followed by a Q & A with Ohad Naharin, at Temple Israel of Hollywood.