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Monday, March 18, 2019

In Context: Venezuela

Photo: Ascaf

Acclaimed Choreographer Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Company are renowned worldwide for their adventurous vision and distinctive movement language. Combining visceral physicality with a rigor and consistency in their training, the company compels audiences with its virtuosity and raw energy.

Created in two 40-minute sections placed in juxtaposition, Venezuela, their latest evening-length work, is a multifaceted piece in which the endless possibilities of a choreographer’s craft are at play and, in turn, the audience confronts the limits of their own freedom of choice.

After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below, and on social media using #BatshevaBAM.

Program Notes

Venezuela (PDF)


A Visual Guide to the Theory and Practice of Gaga (BAMblog)
This guide introduces you to the core tenets of  Gaga, a movement language developed by Ohad Naharin, using photographs of some of Batsheva Dance Company’s performances.

The Secret History of the Israeli Choreographer Ohad Naharin (The New Yorker)
Over 20 years, filmmaker Tomer Heymann developed an obsession with the work and life of Naharin, which resulted in Mr. Gaga, the most successful documentary in Israeli history.

Free Your Mind, and Your Spine Will Follow (The New York Times)
In 2007 Ohad Naharin had the opportunity to retrain 24 dancers of the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet for his evening-length work, Decadance. The ballet-trained dancers were asked to “operate not from the mirror but from the gut.”

The 5 Life Lessons That Help Amalia Smith Thrive at Batsheva (Dance Magazine)
With the rigorous tour and rehearsal schedule that comes with being part of Batsheva Dance Company, self-care is paramount. 23-year-old Amalia what it takes to thrive as a young dancer with Batsheva.

Watch & Listen

Mr. Gaga - Deleted Scenes / Ohad Naharin explains the Groove to dancers (YouTube)
In this deleted scene from Mr. Gaga, you get an inside look at how Naharin communicates the feel of his compositions with his dancers.

Batsheva Dance Company: 'It's about making the body listen' (YouTube)
See Naharin in action with his dancers while expounding on why he loves the art of composition and the importance of connecting with the body..

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #BatshevaBAM.

© 2019 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.


  1. I was quite disappointed, as the choreography was much too helter-skelter and repetitive. It appeared to be a display of rag dolls gyrating with the same, or similar, vocabulary. Also, the increasing audio volume was unnecessary and the ear-splitting sounds became painful at the climaxes-most of the audience is not hard of hearing! And finally, playing without an intermission made the piece boring after a while. Gaga or not, it was incomprehensible. On a positive note, the dancers were energetic beyond description as they threw themselves around the stage. But the verbalvulgarities were not needed! Joe S.

  2. I was disappointed as well. I thought it needed badly to be edited and tightened up. There were passages that were very strong, the flag sequence for example. Then there were other passages that were painfully monotonous, perhaps the intent was to project a sense of building tension but it was unsuccessful. The rap sequences were just awful. Like children playing at being cool.
    The rap was childish and inauthentic. It seemed like a

  3. Loved it! In part, the piece is about how music shapes our perception. It definitely delivered on that idea and the standing ovation was well deserved.

  4. I'll tell you who should not be rapping Biggie Smalls. A troupe of (mostly white/foreign) modern dancers. The *first* time around I was so embarrassed for them that I couldn't even look at the stage. The *second* time around, I got up and left. If you want to show your appreciation for the black, urban experience in America, find another way to do it. Oh, and there is nothing more alienating to an audience than playing the noise of an engine at a decibel level louder than that of jumbo jet. When I wasn't embarrassed or sonically assaulted, I was bored.

  5. The production felt lazy and at times embarrassing. The choreography did not do justice to the dancers' obvious technical prowess. A banal observation concerning the contextualizing effect of music did not justify the repetition of often tedious sequences. I second what others have already said concerning the rap and the volume. I wish I had not gone.

  6. Great show! Enjoyed the creativity and contrasts of the 2 sets. For me it highlighted individual creativity within a group setting. I loved it and plan on watching it again on YouTube tomorrow.

  7. I still don't know what to think about it. I feel like a man and a woman would perceive this show so differently. I'm a woman and felt sorta abused in some way. And then the white cloths first, and then the flags with the repetition: that blew me away. Halfway I started to think I needed to see the show again to understand it differently (also I was seeing it from a side and would like to see it from the center). And when it started to repeat was so compelling. When I saw the flags appear I was dyyyyiiiinnngggg to see them hit the floor, I love when frontiers are vanished with arts such as dance ha. And it was freeing, also I love how it teased the audience in a way and how sex and politics had a conversation in the show (at least from my point of view) and how through repetition little different details changed the whole thing and still they were in conversation.
    Still I don't know if I liked it. I left feeling weird and angry and I don't understand it yet. But I love it when a show changes you. So I guess I did like it.

  8. I was expecting something different. I enjoyed the dancers, I thought they were extremely talented and performed beautiful movements. However, I thought some of the scenes were too long like stretching the passages. I understand the effect of the music and how music can even change the context of the movements, however, the repetition was too much even boring. The audio was extremely loud for moments that I agree it became tedious and unnecessary. The vulgarities were also unnecessary, I still don't get what was the purpose. The effect of the flags scene was interesting however, the group is not really diverse so I am not sure what effect that can have. I feel that it was a different experience but I am kind of disappointed for the show.

  9. I agree with all of the negative comments stated above. Sitting behind me, was a parent and a young child(8-10 years of age). I am pretty sure the parent's intention was for this child to have a wonderful experience seeing a dance performance by an international company at BAM. By the second set they were no longer watching the performance. It is sad that the best of intentions were not fulfilled.

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  11. If I were to really describe the emotions and the ideas and the feelings that were coming and going in my head throughout the performance I think I would have to write a 4 page essay, but dance is my thing and Naharin is a choreographer that grips you to your soul. He does the unexpected, the ugly the real and the raw and all who had negative reactions and comments... Good. Because it touched something in you, YOU'RE dealing with. I loved it, every single second of it, the genius of repeating the same sequence changing the dancers around and flipping the script every single second of this piece means something and if you didn't REALLY watch you missed the hole point. I definitely felt I needed to see it again. I Loved the music, I loved the irony of using Biggie's work by a foreign company in Israel who is touched by his work and who throws it right back at the mostly white audience watching it... again brilliant. I wish I could have spoken to Mr. Naharin after the performance his work ignites and inspires always. Thank you BAM for not putting up boring, agreeable work for people, but work that changes lives. I used to work for you guys back in the late 90's and I wish I worked there now. You make art not meat loaf for the masses. Excellent work.

  12. I just checked back in to see how the comments have been going. I am shocked at the hate or even the outrage for the piece! After the performance I watched audience members on the street clamoring with each other to talk about it and I walked into the grocery store to see other audience members trying to describe the piece by acting it out! This piece moved me so much that I looked up flights to be able to see it again during their North American tour. I don't have the money to do that... but I considered it for a second. The production was so visceral and worth it and I felt like I was watching something. I still think about the dance one month later and can say that it has offered me a new perspective on my daily routine in NYC. It was life changing. It was so full of hope and anger and despair and sex and hope again. Couldn't have asked for more.


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