Ohad Naharin is Turning Over the Reins at Batsheva
It's difficult to imagine a Batsheva Dance Company without Ohad Naharin at the helm. The provocative choreographer has been the Israeli troupe's artistic director since 1990, during which time the company, its lead choreographer and his movement language, Gaga, have become more or less synonymous. But changes are afoot.
Batsheva quietly announced on its website this weekend that Naharin will be stepping down from his post as artistic director in September 2018. Taking over the top job is former company member Gili Navot, a master Gaga teacher and choreographer who has also staged Naharin's work. In a release following the announcement, Naharin praised Navot's "outstanding leadership qualities necessary for management."
Not to worry, Naharin fans: The enigmatic leader isn't going far. He'll continue to serve as the company's house choreographer. Of his decision to step down, Naharin says, "When I arrived to Batsheva 27 years ago, the company was in a deep identity crisis. As artistic director, I was committed to a dramatic change. We had to change the way we thought, the way we trained and why we danced, to change our artistic values, production values and work ethics. These vital changes enabled me to be at my best as a creator. Today...Batsheva operates at the highest level. This enables me to resign from my role as artistic director and dedicate myself to creation, to the dancers and to Gaga research."
So while things are changing, the company's identity isn't likely to undergo too drastic a makeover, especially with an artist so steeped in Gaga as Navot. We are curious to see how much the new director will choreograph on the company (she participated in the Batsheva Dancers Create platform multiple times during her company days), not to mention what guest choreographers she'll bring in.
We're wishing Batsheva, Naharin and Navot all the best as they navigate this transition over the coming year.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.