Strange Partners

Japan, Israel, and Spain in Our Backyard

And what is the piece about? The use of Peter Handke's 1966 absurdist play, Offending the Audience, admonishes us to have no expectations; we will see no play. The word-dense text, intermittently delivered by Jesper Thirup Hansen, says such increasingly maddening things as "The non-existent door does not represent a non-existent door." At the end, Hansen also strives to offend us with a long litany of insults: " . . . you abortions, you bitches and bastards, you nothings, you thingamajigs." The dancing plays against this, yet collides with it: We become intensely aware of ourselves as spectators and of our desire for meaning. As striking and eloquently performed as Naharin's Virus is, it's also purposely diffuse; hints of narrative dissolve before you can grasp them. A few dancers tell personal stories, some execute brief solos, but we barely begin to know them as individuals. In the marvelous beginning, while Hansen, in a white suit, stands stiffly atop the eight-foot wall, Kristin Francke (wearing Rakefet Levy's curious uniform of white, gloved leotards with black, footed leggings drawn up to mid-thigh) moves slowly, undulatingly, along it, drawing lines with white chalk that sometimes trace her head or one arm, but never stop and never finish a shape. Before long, Hansen, shockingly, slips from behind his suit (thus revealed as a free-standing object) and joins the other dancers. In another striking moment a microphone is dangled above Chisato Ohno's head, and as it moves lower and lower, forcing her down against the wall, she utters a barrage of bizarre noises.

Vacancy decontrol: Batsheva Dance Company in Naharin's Virus
photo: Pete Kuhns
Vacancy decontrol: Batsheva Dance Company in Naharin's Virus

The work's stunning and disturbing surface prods you to look for depths, even while warning you that there are none.

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