Batsheva Dance Company performs with unique artistic style

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Watching a Batsheva dance performance is as much of an experience for the audience as it is for the dancers taking the stage, professor Yacov Sharir said.

Hailing from Israel, the Batsheva Dance Company presented “Max” on Monday night at Bass Concert Hall and displayed a unique type of dance that Sharir said must be approached with an open mind.

“You have to approach the work with a sense of vulnerability and humility,” he said. “If you’re expecting a Broadway-like show, this is not the company to see.”

Sharir, who teaches dance at UT, said he has been a member of the Batsheva dance company for 13 years and has witnessed its transformation into an international phenomenon.

“We were the luckiest dancers to be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “It took Batsheva finding the very best choreographers and a repertoire of great dancers to employ.”

Ohad Naharin, the choreographer of “Max,” used the Batsheva style to incorporate his own technical work and ideas surrounding the dance, Sharir said.

“He works thematically and employs different techniques, depending on the work he’s pursuing,” he said. “He’s very well set to have the dancers come up and contribute their own sensibility and how they like to move.”

Ohad’s work presents a unique experience for the audience and an element of surprise, Sharir said.

“There are long moments of stillness, and you have to find movement in that stillness,” he said. “There are also long moments of silence, and you need to attempt to find the music and the sound within the silence, and that’s not easy to do.”

While engaging in the unexpectedness of Ohad’s choreography can be a challenge to an untrained audience, it is also a challenge for even the most skillful dancers trained in Batsheva technique, Sharir said.

“Is it hard? Is it challenging? It is,” he said. “It is challenging for the dancers and challenging for the viewer as well. You have to be open to whatever happens.”

Sharir also highlighted Israel as a hub of theatrical vivacity and a center for cutting-edge dance.

“There are more artistic activities in Israel than the [rest] of the whole world put together,” he said. “The theaters at night are packed.”

Sarah Rostoker, a grant writer for Ballet Austin, said she attended the performance because of her admiration and experience with the Batsheva style.

“I took a workshop in New York City, and it was unlike anything I’d ever done,” she said. “It was so innovative and fresh, so I’m really excited to see his company.”

Rostoker’s mother, Joy, said she lived in Israel and was able to witness Batsheva dance in its original location.

“I had seen them in Israel and I’m just curious to see how they’ve evolved,” she said.

While “Max” is true to Ohad’s signature style, Sharir said it is a complex work involving different emotions.

“’Max’ is a journey into the human spirit — a primal expression of pain and human happiness,” he said.

Published on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 as:Batsheva Dance Company performs with unique artistic style