Batsheva’s Venezuela is yet another exhilarating must-see work from one of the world’s most adventurous and exciting companies. Running March 27–30 at the Howard Gilman Opera House, the evening-length piece, which doesn’t overtly reference the titular, troubled South American nation in its narrative, consists of two forty-minute sections. In the first part, the Israeli troupe moves as a group, breaks into energetic solos and daring duets, skips around with delight, and lines up at the front of the stage, each dancer stepping forward one at a time as two men rap Biggie’s NSFW “Dead Wrong” (“The weak or the strong / who got it goin’ on / You’re dead wrong”). The women ride the men like donkeys. In a blur, the cast, all dressed in black (the costumes are by dancer Eri Nakamura), briskly skip from one side to the other, some moving forward, some backward, chaos threatening but soon replaced by a childlike wonder. The music primarily consists of Gregorian chants until a growing drone overtakes everything and the lights go out.
The lights come back on and there are different dancers now onstage, and for the next forty minutes they perform the exact same choreography, only to a different soundtrack (including songs by Rage Against the Machine, Olafur Arnalds, and Vox; the lush soundtrack design and edit is by Maxim Waratt) and with different lighting by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi), offering an enchanting perspective on what choreographer Ohad Naharin showed us in the first half, his Gaga movement language telling a new story. Even the blank cloths that were dropped in the first section now become colorful symbols. The first Batsheva work to come to New York since former company dancer Gili Navot took over as artistic director from Naharin, who is now house choreographer, Venezuela is another triumph from a scintillating company that has been enriching dance and dazzling audiences for decades.