March 9, 2012
Snatches of classical music " hits " waft through Ohad Naharin's "Hora" (2009) at the BAM Opera House. A popular Israeli choreographer who has a way with communal movement and witty asides, mixed together a bunch of movement clusters, shook them all up and let them scatter through the wonderfully attuned bodies of the Batsheva dance company.
A long bench runs across the back wall steeped in green. Backs erect, the company stands and moves forward in silhouette.
But the dark mystery breaks into light (nicely designed by Bambi) and the previously still dancers break into avian actions. Heads jut forward and back, spines contracts and releases over bent knees while the distinctive sound of Debussy’s “Afternoon of A Faun” funnesl through a synthesizer eliciting giggles. Dancers move about switching from herky-jerky to smoothe moves.
Throughout "Hora" group interactions release solos or duets that filter back into the group. Like the recognizable classical music (most of which became popularized as movie theme music) iconic dance images appear here and there. For instance, the company spreads out, legs together, arms straight up at angle, hands broken at the wrist (the inverse of an iconic image from Balanchine’s Serenade). But the image dissolves—an action repeated throughout the piece.
Although the choreography doesn't necessarily relate to the musical passages, there are times like Wagner's “Ride of the Valkyries” when men line up, and convulse as if shot in the back. There are a number of appealing moments featuring dancers who can switch from herky-jerky to an open, lyrical line that expands into a long arabesque and collapses, without warning, into the ground. Or the line of dancers who execute a goofy pop styled dance, moving downstage American Bandstand Style, knees bent, torso hunched forward, rotating shoulders and fists.
The Israeli folkdance “hora” never really materializes on stage, but a village of individual movers come together and much of the audience was duly pleased by the experience.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis