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This edgy dance company leaves a lasting impression

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

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Theatre Royal Plymouth

The Batsheva Ensemble – a young offshoot of the Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company – has caused a degree of controversy everywhere it went on its UK tour, which ended last week in Plymouth.

A peaceful protest outside and vociferous interruptions inside the theatre unsettled the audience. It's not often you watch a dance performance where the stage and exits are guarded by very serious looking men in dark suits.

Batsheva dancers must be used to such matters. The performance – quiet at first – almost seemed designed to give the objectors time to say their bit ("free, free Palestine") and leave before getting into its groove.

The Theatre Royal, because of its membership of Dance Consortium, has welcomed many international dance companies over the years. Each of them bringing something of their cultural roots with them. If you watch Alvin Ailey's dancers, you get a sense of the Black-American experience, NDT2 from Holland brings a European vibe.

You have to look hard here to see something of Batsheva's heritage, but when we do glimpse something of that Jewish tradition, the work comes alive.

In any retrospective – and Deca Dance is a celebration of choreographer Ohid Naharin's 20 years with the company – there will be good and bad.

I wasn't much taken with some of the early works, jerky, contorted, sharp at the edges; but the show evolved with some hypnotic and exhilarating pieces that delighted the audience, including one charming piece where the dancers enticed ladies of a certain age on stage to woo them with dance.

With a soundtrack that veered from Dean Martin and Laurindo Almeida and the Bossa Nova All-Stars through Vivaldi to Goldfrapp, this was an evening at the theatre that left me with a lasting impression... mostly for all the right reasons.


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