In 1990, choreographer, teacher, and Gaga movement-language developer Ohad Naharin was named artistic director of the Tel Aviv–based Batsheva Dance Company. Later that same year, he started Batsheva – The Young Ensemble as a training ground for emerging dancers. This weekend, Batsheva – The Young Ensemble is performing one of Naharin’s signature works, Naharin’s Virus, at Jacob’s Pillow, followed by a two-week run at the Joyce in Chelsea, from July 10 to 22. The sixty-minute heavily political piece is partly adapted from Peter Handke’s 1966 play, Offending the Audience, about which the Austrian writer has explained, “I first intended to write an essay, a pamphlet, against the theatre, but then I realized that a paperback isn’t an effective way to publish an anti-theatre statement. And so the outcome was, paradoxically, doing something onstage against the stage, using the theatre to protest against the theatre of the moment — I don’t mean theatre as such, the Absolute, I mean theatre as a historical phenomenon, as it is to this day.” Naharin’s Virus, which debuted in 2001 and made its US premiere at BAM in the spring of 2002, features a percussive score of Arabic music by Shama Khader, Habib Allah Jamal, and Karni Postel, along with snippets of Barber, D’Alessio, Stokes, and Parsons.
The Young Ensemble consists of Chen Agron, Mourad Bouayad, Thibaut Eiferman, Ariel Gelbart, Londiwe Khoza, Kornelia Maria Tamara Lech, Ohad Mazor, Robin Lesley Nimanong, Evyatar Omessy, Igor Ptashenchuk, Roni Rahamim, Tamar Rosenzweig, Hani Sirkis, Xanthe van Opstal, Nicolas Ventura, and Paul Vickers. “Handke’s play is about the negation of the theater,” Naharin said in a BAM program note. “The direct, continuous appeal to the public turns the spectator’s mere presence, his self-awareness and his act of listening — into the main issue of the play. He glorifies the public — but means no praise, he scorns them — but means no offense. He contradicts himself. The play empties the stage of all expectations, of all theatrical conventions. A space, a void is created: It is there where my creation takes place!” There will be a Curtain Chat following the July 11 performance, and Young Ensemble rehearsal director Michal Sayfan will be teaching a two-hour master class at Gibney on July 20 ($20, 10:00 am).