Karen, Bruce, and Steve and I saw the Batsheva Dance Company doing *Last Work* at BAM on 2/4. Batsheva is an incredible Israeli dance company and Karen, Steve, and I have seen them on nearly every one of their visits to New York. Their new piece is called *Last Work.* Their artistic director and principal choreographer said that it's not necessarily his last work, it's just last in the sense that it's the last thing he's done. Lately. So I guess he's being a little coy. Which is a valid choice, no?
The show started before the curtain even went up - - there was a protest going on outside, something to do with Batsheva taking state funds from Israel and how that's a dastardly thing to do. Of all the things we have to protest right now, that's the one you choose? Some guy approached us and offered a sheet of paper explaining the protest. I briefly considered taking one, just to be thorough in my reportage, but I chose instead to do a Dionne Warwick:
The show continued inside the theater. Karen and I were dazzled and amused by the sartorial choices of the people in our section of the mezzanine. A woman in a black top with cutout shoulders. This look was put on the map by Candy Bergen at the Emmys in 1992. And a guy in a perplexing top. Karen said, "Is that leather? With a lace trim?" Sure enough, it was a black leather top with white lace trim on the collar. Which of course got us singing that droopy song by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley:
But enough of that mishegass. The show was amazing, they always blow me away. Naharin's work has gotten more deep and serious over the years, and while I miss the humor and joy of his earlier work, it's not like Woody Allen where you're trading it for something that's just plain DULL.
The dance opened with a man at the back of the stage on a sort of treadmill, running. And he stayed in that same spot and ran, with no discernible variation in his pace, for the duration of the piece, about 75 minutes. That alone was hypnotic. The other dancers came onstage one by one, doing unrelated movements, some of them animal-like (I spotted bugs, birds, and possibly a salamander). Not a lot of human interaction. But strangely enough, I would call Batsheva the most human dance company I've seen, mostly because Naharin really values the individual more than other choreographers I've seen. He sometimes arranges them in groups or in larger patterns, but not as much as others. His stuff works on you on a cerebral level, and also on an emotional level.