New York Times Critic Doesn’t Doesn’t Dance Around His Hatred of Israel

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Alastair Macaulay, the New York Times chief dance critic, seems to froth at the mouth when it comes to Israel. That is the only conclusion one can form after reading his “review” of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company’s latest show. (hat tip: Kenneth)

Human rights protesters were demonstrating outside the Joyce Theater on Tuesday night. The company appearing was from Israel — Batsheva’s junior troupe, the Young Ensemble. The topics of protest were Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people and Batsheva’s role, as an Israeli cultural ambassador, as a front for that repression.

The climate onstage, however, is never one of freedom. There’s always a sense that Big Brother is watching. The company performs Gaga, a movement style developed by Mr. Naharin to heighten sensation and imagination and to go beyond familiar limits. But even when the 16 dancers are at their wildest, they look driven rather than driving.

Near the end, all the dancers do unison movement routines that evoke various folk forms of the Near East: here a slow turning step with one arm raised, suggesting the movement of dervishes; there a two-step number with arms outstretched, reminiscent of the dabke, an Arab folk dance. Yet the look is always one that deprives them of freedom rather than liberating them. Even when earlier on three or more subgroups are doing entirely different, often intense things, the mood is controlled, involuntary, dragooned.

To me, they look like citizens of a totalitarian state. Or rather, as in other Naharin works, they look like pawns in this choreographer’s game.

The bias in this piece is about as subtle as this (racy humor alert).

Interestingly enough, there is a correction at the end

Correction: July 12, 2018
An earlier version of this review misstated, in one instance, the name of the play by Peter Handke that is adapted in “Naharin’s Virus.” The play is “Offending the Audience,” not “Offering the Audience.”

There should have instead been an apology for publishing it in the first place.

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