REVIEW: Batsheva Dance Company Presents DECADANCE

Startlingly unexpected

By Narelle Wood

It was clear from even before the show began that Batsheva was no ordinary dance company and this was going to be no ordinary performance. Company member Shamel Pitts was tasked with entertaining the audience before the curtain was raised, before being joined by fellow performers in a remarkable opening number of unique movement and style.


Decadance for the 2015 Melbourne Festival was like no other style of dance I’ve seen. The music selection was eclectic with pieces ranging from Dean Martin, Vivaldi, The Beach Boys and a traditional folk song “Echad mi Yodea”. The dancers often performing intricate canons that slowly built until, just when you thought you knew what was coming next, would take the dance, and often the emotion, in a completely different direction.

It was, as described by the women sitting next to me, an emotional rollercoaster, the mood changing from broodiness to something more light-hearted within a couple of movements. I found their pieces to be both challenging, witty, inspirational, intriguing and most of all joyous. I’m generally not a fan of audience participation, but on this occasion the whole theatre seemed to come alive with enthusiasm, in a celebration of dance. The performance was complimented by such clever and simple use of lighting (Gadi Glik) and wardrobe (Ofer Amram and Maya Avi). At one point, , through the use of the dark backdrop, black suits and some low level lighting, it seemed as though the dancers emerged from nowhere.

Ohad Naharin’s choreography is powerful and intriguing; both the movement and use of music is generally not what you expect. Sometimes it is simplistic and repetitive and at other times there are so many different movements and shapes it is hard to know where to look. But that might be the genius of Naharin’s work, no matter how complex it is, the elements don’t seem to compete, instead perfectly complement each other to tell the most interesting stories.

Decadance was the complex expression of genius at work. I can’t pinpoint why I found it completely enthralling, only that I did, and that when I left I knew I needed to see more. It is contemporary dance in a style and league all of its own.

Venue: State Theatre
Season: 17th and 18th of October (Batsheva presents Last Work)