Curtain Up

January 30, 2012

Last fall I caught a rehearsal where Ohad Naharin was leading a group of Ailey dancers through the poignant “Mabul” section of his Minus 16. They had already done some Gaga sessions to prepare, and now the five casts were striving to perform the duet the way he wanted. But maybe they were striving too hard. At one point he said, “Just stand there and expose the skin of the inside of your elbows. Feel your weakness; admit your weakness. We are all weak anyway. Enjoy it.”

This is not what we usually hear from artistic directors. Professional aesthetics demand a highly polished presentation. But it’s this message that gives Ohad’s own dancers, the Batsheva Dance Company, the feeling that they are turning themselves inside out. Through the exploratory practice of Gaga, they dig underneath and find the vulnerability that makes each one of them an individual.

This spring the Batsheva Dance Company tours North America. Since the group has several American dancers (there seems to be a fast track from Juilliard to Tel Aviv), we wanted to give an in-depth look at what goes on during rehearsals. In “Inside Batsheva,” Deborah Friedes Galili gives a vivid account of the Israeli group’s creative process. For an overview of the international impact of Naharin’s revolutionary approach, read Ori Lenkinski’s “Naharin’s Influence.”

Of course, being vulnerable can make you feel out of control—especially at an audition. This year’s “Auditions Guide” takes you through three types of tryouts where you may find yourself teetering on the edge of control: the audition where you’re outside your comfort zone, the audition where you’re asked to improvise, and the audition for Stephen Petronio, whose movement can veer between quietly intricate and wildly confrontational.

While you may or may not fall in love with a choreographer or company at an audition, we offer a Valentine special celebrating a more permanent sort of love. We’ve profiled three married couples who are partners both on- and offstage. They learn from each other, dance with each other, and build a life with each other. So tune in to “Putting a Ring on It” to hear three ridiculously romantic tales of dancing into the sunset—for real.