Israeli choreographer, guru of the fashionable dance movement gaga and ex-artistic director of Batscheva Dance Company Ohad Naharin released the play “Sadeh21” on the stage of the Paris Opera (with local young performers) - a transfer of one of his program works (2011), planned several seasons ago by Aurélie Dupont . Tells Maria Sidelnikova.
Empty stage. On both wings there are gray blocks, reminiscent of the pedestals of the Berlin Holocaust memorial. Together with a low blank wall cutting the stage horizontally, they form a closed space. This is “sadeh”, which means “field” in Hebrew. Ohad Naharin danced with the artists of the Batscheva youth troupe in 2011 in Jerusalem because of the ambiguity of this word. The choreographer set a divertissement of dance numbers-chapters (formally, as the name suggests, there should be 21 of them) on an uneven mix of the ragged rattles of Autechre electronics, cello music by David Darling, mystical meditations by Angelo Badalamenti from Mulholland Drive, folklore motifs and silence. She is a full-fledged participant in the hour-long performance, the end-to-end emotion and the final point: no bows or applause. Instead, the credits run across the backdrop, like in a movie, and the audience, accustomed to Naharin’s energetic encores, reaches out in confusion towards the exit.
The cult of 71-year-old Ohad Naharin in the modern dance world is unshakable and has long gone beyond the borders of his native Israel. The movement dialect gaga, which he invented, where there is no ballet drill, self-flagellation, authorities, mirrors, fight against gravity, only the body, its instincts and understandable images (like noodles crawling along the spine), is spoken today by both thousands of neophytes around the world and and ballet professionals. The world's best theaters host performances by him and his students - Hofesh Shechter, Sharon Eyal, Bobbie Jen Smith. Naharin's debut at the Paris Opera took place in 2000, even before the onset of gaga-mania. He transferred his long-standing performance “Perpetuum” to the troupe (danced, by the way, by Aurélie Dupont), the premiere was received politely and was never resumed. The second attempt took place under Benjamin Millepied; the progressive artistic director initiated Batscheva’s tour at Opera Garnier. The success of this endeavor was secured by the same Dupont, his successor and a big fan of the Israeli choreographer. A pure product of the French school, an exemplary classicist, who herself had caught the gaga virus with an already established etoile, she knew from her own experience that a modern ballet dancer without gaga is like without hands. With her light hand, “Decadance” entered the repertoire of Parisians in 2018 (see “Kommersant” dated October 3, 2018). It had an effect not so much on the audience as on the artists themselves: having tasted bodily freedom, several people even left the troupe (only Pina Bausch once produced a greater shock), while the rest cleverly took new skills into their baggage of universal dancers.
In “Sadeh21” only the corps de ballet is occupied (the main artistic forces of the Opera are thrown on tour to Japan) and the backbone of the premiere casting migrated from “Decadance”. From solo short performances by experienced gaga practitioners (Clémence Grosse, Ida Wikinkoski, Caroline Osmont, Juliette Hilaire, Xihu Yang, Marion Gautier de Charnasse, Eugenie Drion, Takeru Coste, Antonin Monnier, Alex Ibo, Hugo Vigliotti, Yvon Demol) and excellent “converts” (Nais Dubosc, Adele Belem, Milo Evek, Lou Marco-Derroir especially stood out) are beginning to explore this uncultivated field of meanings that “Sadeh21” is intended to be. The artistic temperaments of the guys are on full display here, and everyone has something to say. It may seem difficult to get carried away by their story: the costumes are scanty, rehearsal, the rhythm is uneven, the action continually plunges into a meditative fog, no going to the hall and dancing with the stars on stage, “Sadeh21” is devoid of all this. But once you get drawn into this fragile, strange world, there is no turning back. Chapter after chapter, the stage turns into a field for dance experiments. The tenderness of duets gives way to collective aggression, male and female groups exchange roles and dance languages - gentlemen gracefully waltz, ladies almost tap dance. The performers are looking for clever movement algorithms, which are immediately “set” by one of the dancers, shouting out numbers. They are looking for new images: if walks on high half-toes have already scattered around the world thanks to Sharon Eyal, then a quiet mechanical march along the perimeter of the stage (in this case - in the selfless performance of Clémence Grosse), when the thigh seems to separate from the body, trying to stretch upward as much as possible, and the shoulder stretches downward - we have yet to see this in others, and more than once, maybe even in the same Eyal. They turn to the roots (one of the chapters is a paraphrase of the “hora” dance in its Jewish version) and to speech (the gibberish monologue performed by Antonin Monier “eats” the 11 chapters following each other at lightning speed, from the 7th to the 18th). And gradually, through these bodily experiences, the world of people begins to sprout - leaders and conformists, sociable and solitary, totalitarian and free. The final scene is disconcertingly ambiguous. One by one, as at the beginning, the artists climb the front wall. The first to rise will be the young lyricist Milo Evek. Before he has time to take a pose, his antique torso seems to be struck by a machine gun fire and his body collapses into the darkness. The last one is the shaved head of Lou Marco-Derroir. The brutal handsome man freely jumps into the abyss himself. At the premiere in 2011 in Jerusalem, one could still hear ringing laughter and see the joy of jumping into a fresh haystack, but today there is only sorrow in this field.