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Ohad Naharin and MINUS 16 and PASSOMEZZO

Naharin is a choreographer who trained here at the Nederland Dans Theatre and then went back to Israel and founded his own company, Bat-Sheva, based in Tel-Aviv. They tour internationally. Yesterday I saw two pieces by him, "Minus 16" in a full-stage concert, and "Passomezzo" which is an eight-minute duet, this time done on an outdoor stage.

It's the beginning of the theatre/dance/film season here and there were **free** open houses all over the place. The "Minus 16" piece was done in its entirety and toward the end, involved the company bringing audience members up on the stage to dance, and it's not as weird as it sounds, some of the fans did quite well! I was in the middle of a row and they couldn't get to me. That's okay, doubt if I could have done much more than plod, my space is behind the lights not in front of them. No cameras allowed so I couldn't take any pics =(.

Passomezzo was another thing. The open air stage was in front of the Escher museum and covered by clear plastic in case of rain [it didn't.] The dancers wore their usual stage costumes except for her kneepads. The music is "Greensleeves", which is an English medieval love song to a lady who wears those sleeves. But the dancers work totally against the music, it's more like they are duelling using intensely physical work, which is a Naharin trademark:









At one point he holds her across one of his knees while he's in a squat:






She's prone on her back, perhaps playing dead? But he's right there, thinking about what to do to revive her:






Then they reverse positions, it appears as if she is stepping on his head and flying away:







And then a symbolic capture sequence:








And they agree to disagree, seemingly:






And the curtain call, the amber light from stage R reads just slightly on her:






One sequence at the beginning has them walking in a box-pattern across the width and down the depth of the stage, almost like measuring the limits of a boxing ring.

The jarring contrast is between the melodic music of love playing all the time these dance patterns are developing, which they share with us. At the end they broadly smile at one another and walk forward to us, then they drop out of character and it is just a welcome finish.

Naharin in all his work concentrates on getting the smallest parts of your body to dance: just your eyes; then a finger; then a wrist; then a shoulder; then two... and on and on until your body becomes a channel for incredible energies of movement. Done with sensuality too; I find this soft touch not so dominating at all, but a bit sensuous as it involves the small of your back and the arch of your foot --- and they perform it slowly and delicately:





I also liked how the dancers were matched, size-wise. He looks powerful and muscular and maybe threatening but he moves with a tender grace. She might be a bit large by modern-dance standards but she moves speedily with wings lifting her that you can't see.

An experience. You can also decide it's an interpretation of the ups and downs of a relationship, maybe any relationship, and that it's no accident that the smiles are there at the end of the piece, probably that is also choreographed. I'd like to think so.

Just the act of creating, whether it's dance and/or a whole lot of other things, even a life, is basically full of light and energy for me. No matter what form the physical expressions might take --- because that's your inspiration, to create them that way.

Inspiration as to breathe in, literally.

At the end they were breathing hard but happily.

Me too.

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