Thursday, January 1, 2009

Batsheva Dance Company in the News

In an article out today, the Detroit News refers to the Batsheva Dance Company as one of "three edgy dance companies [to be] presented by the University Musical Society (UMS)" and says:
Next up at Power Center is Israel-based Batsheva Dance Company, Feb. 14-15, featuring a different program at each performance choreographed by artistic director Ohad Naharin. The Feb. 14 show offers "Three," a three-part dance to the music of Bach and two contemporary scores. The next afternoon features "DecaDance," with 10 excerpts from Naharin's body of work.

"He has a very distinctive movement vocabulary," [UMS programming director Michael] Kondziolka says. "It's not about anything but the movement. It's powerful work."
An article in Tuesday's The Dance Insider fills us in on just how "edgy" Israeli dance troupe's are:

On Sunday I asked regular Dance Insider contributor Omar Barghouti, a Jerusalem-based freelance choreographer, cultural analyst, and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (, to reiterate the justification for including dance companies in this overall boycott.

"PACBI, including I, call for boycotting ALL Israeli dance companies due to their complicity," Barghouti explained. "None of them has ever taken a position calling for an end to the occupation, not to mention recognizing UN-sanctioned rights of the refugees or ending racial discrimination against the state's 'non-Jewish' citizens (the remaining indigenous population).

"A dancer here or there may say things here or there, but none of their groups has ever taken a position. This is complicity.

"Also, none of them has ever challenged reserve service in the occupation army, despite the fact that punishment for doing so is minimal in Israel (unlike Germany in the '30s, say). This is an even deeper level of complicity. Those same dancers are part-time occupation soldiers, manning roadblocks, protecting colonies, evacuating homes and demolishing them, killing children and letting pregnant women die at checkpoints by preventing ambulances [from passing through], letting young bleeding youth bleed to death without medical aid, etcetera. What a bunch of liberal dancers! And what do their institutions do? Nothing." [Indeed, in October 2006, as cited by Michelle J. Kinnucan in the web-based magazine Electronic Intifada, Naharin told Dance Magazine that two of the dancers in his junior company were Israeli soldiers.] (To read a related article by Barghouti in these pages, click here.)

In addition to PACBI, international organizations and individuals supporting a boycott include UN general assembly president Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (on Monday, Israel bombed the Islamic University of Gaza as well as the culture ministry -- exactly how are these centers of Hamas power?), renowned art critic John Berger, choreographer Ornelia D'Agostino, composer Brian Eno, dancer/choreographers Serene Huleileh and Zkynap Tanbay, dancer and musician Magdalene Joly, movement artist Rainer Knupp, dancer Maria Munoz Guillen, writers Eduardo Galeano and Arundati Roy, and filmmaker Elia Suleiman.

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