Monday, January 26, 2009

Vancouver Activist on Batsheva Dance Company

The letter below was posted as a comment to "Pittsburgh to Protest Batsheva Dance Company." It has been slightly reformatted here for readability.

Dear Dance House Productions,

I want to let you know that as an active arts member of Vancouver's dance scene, supporter of New Works and collaborator with many of Eponymous's arts clients, I however will be boycotting your presentation of Israeli Batsheva Dance Company's 'Deca Dance' on February 20th and 21st 2009. Under the present political circumstances it would be impossible to enjoy such an event. I prefer to add my own artists voice to the many others that are calling for a boycott of Israeli cultural events due to the illegal military and civil actions occurring at this time in Israel.

I will be actively encouraging others to join the boycott and I sincerely ask you to reconsider your involvement in this event.

I have no doubt that history will look back on this in much the same way that they now do of the 1980's cultural and sporting boycotts of South African apartheid.

I feel I should be brave enough to take the personal effort to make my feelings known to you directly, so you don't think its just radicals out there, and do not confuse this with anti-semitism. Boycotting Batsheva is a very real response for many mainstream Vancouverites, including myself. I have travelled to Israel and the West Bank several times, so this is a carefully considered decision. After weighing all the options I have decided to join the international call for a cultural boycott.

Boycott is a tactic which allows people, as distinct from their elected governments, to apply pressure on those wielding power in an unjust way. It is directed not against people but against oppressive and unjust policies and regimes in order to bring about change. However it should also be noted that the dance company members have included past and present Israeli soldiers in the junior ensemble.

Batsheva operates throughout the year with its 2 companies (Batsheva Dance Company and the junior Batsheva Ensemble) and 40 dancers. With 250 annual performances in Israel and around the world, the company is considered Israel’s leading cultural ambassador. As you must be aware Israel has been violating UN resolutions and international law, and has no right to be regarded as an ordinary member-state with whom Western democracies should be engaged in cultural exchange. By hosting a dance group which represents Israel, you implicitly collude with Israel's crimes.

jamie griffiths

jamie griffiths
Director (Film)s & Live Projection (Designs)
Primal Divine Productions
art & performance films
interactive stage designs


Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that the Vancouver performances of Batsheva Dance Company are not being viewed by some as an opportunity for these artists/cultural ambassadors to experience the wealth of freedom that we enjoy in Canada.When traveling one cannot help but be influenced and changed by the experiences and people one encounters.Interpreters by trade, dancers represent excellent conduits for bringing about change through example.Embrace them.
In response to concerns Jamie has about former Israeli soldiers being included in the junior ensemble, it is my understanding that these young people have no choice or voice and are DRAFTED into mandatory service.I propose that we hear them speak as artists.

subvurzhun said...

don't think its just radicals out there

Because you know how obnoxious those radicals are -- always shouting about "war crimes" this, and "racism" that. Surely nobody should take them seriously. No, what we need are reasonable people, who can keep a sense of perspective when confronted with ethnic cleansing and imperial massacres, and not let minor differences of opinion about such things prevent them from being normal, respectable, middle-class citizens.

Anonymous said...

The Batsheva Dance Company is the living legacy of Martha Graham. If you knew anything about modern dance you would know who Martha Graham is. Martha put the corner stones down for the foundation of modern dance. She was the Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso to the dance world. I guess this is how things always work for artists, though.... Isn't it? I just hope Pittsburg is ready to be remembered, through out the halls of eternity, as the shallow minded city that turned a cold shoulder to Batsheva. Thanks for continuing a long history of ignorance. I guess someone's got to do it.