Total Eclipse

Yesterday while rummaging through some papers I found a sheet that contained four scribbled words :


Ohad Naharin


It was my handwriting, but for a moment I couldn’t figure out what the words meant or when I had written them down. Then, I remembered.

Some months back, while aimlessly surfing through different channels on TV, I came to one that was showing a woman dancing. It was a strange kind of dance : the woman seemed to be shivering while dancing, shivering with either ecstasy or pain, or both, and with her hair in disarray she portrayed the picture of a mad woman shaking her arms, legs and body. But there was a method to the madness, a rhythm in the chaotic movements, a symmetry in the crumpled portrait. And the music seemed to follow her.

I simply sat, and watched.

After a while the scene shifted to an interview with man speaking a strange tongue. I waited a while, but soon became restless; I moved on to the next channel. One full circle later when I came back to this one – ARTE – I saw the woman dancing again, only this time there was a TV in the room showing the interview with the man I had seen earlier.

I found the concept intriguing, and did not waver any more. It soon became clear that the interview was with the choreographer of a dance troupe. He was talking about his art, while the lady was performing it. There were short clippings of the troupe performing, and watching those bits left me wanting more. The last part of the documentary had the director in the same room as the lady dancer, dancing feverishly with her, desirous of touching her, and as their bodies got closer there seemed to be a force keeping them apart, as if an invisible wall of glass had appeared in between. When they finally met, their bodies melted, and there was only one dancer.


Haunting. Exotic. Sensual. I had to get to know about this person and his troupe. I reached for the nearest piece of paper, and wrote down what I could see in the teletext of the channel. The documentary was titled Total Eclipse. The man behind the performance was Ohad Naharin. And he was the choreographer of the Batsheva Dance Company, a troupe from Israel.

Then, as it often happens, the mechanics of day-to-day life caught up and I forgot all about this programme, until yesterday. After the tiny piece of paper unlocked this charming little memory, I decided to find out a bit about this dance company. Google, the giant spider with its tentacles spread all over the web, ushered in responses in a flash.

Much in demand by the major European ballet companies, Ohad Naharin creates works whose force radiates through the body towards the heart. At the helm of the Batsheva Dance Company since 1990, the Israeli choreographer derives his inspiration from the human body and its individual capacities. He creates a form of dance that is bold, sensual and exuberant, which draws upon the creative resources of his superb dancers.

And in another place :

Ohad Naharin’s dance has been described as exuberant, sensual, generous and bold. A remarkable fresco created in Tel Aviv in 2001, Naharin’s Virus is based loosely on Peter Handke’s provocative play Offending the Audience, and provides yet another example of the choreographer’s creative powers. For the music, he enlisted Arab composers and musicians, whom he met in Nazareth after presenting a work to an exclusively Arab audience. To both Middle Eastern and Western compositions, sixteen exceptional dancers perform solos, duets and group movements in a performance which is authentic, sensitive and totally committed, in keeping with Handke’s powerful text.

I could not find any performance of this company coming up in the near future in a place near us ( they performed in Paris on the 2nd of Oct which I missed ). I’ll wait, and I’m sure what I’ll finally see will be worth the wait.

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