(A Reflection by Sean)
On Sunday, we had a chance to experience Batsheva’s “Deca Dance”. A friend from the dance company, Gavri, explained to me that it’s a collage of excerpts from various pieces, a sort of “best of”.
I’ve never seen a choreographed/professional dance before. That might sound weird, since I really identify myself with dance, but I learned dance on asphalt, not in the performance hall.
The result is that I went unsure how to “watch” a choreographed dance. First, I was confused. It seemed stories were being told, but I didn’t quite get them. Things made more sense when I began to identify the beat, started to pay attention to how the dancers interacted with it. Sometimes I’d try to understand how the movement of the dancer’s would feel. Eventually, this gave way to brief moments where I felt a little bit more connected to what I was watching, but at no point did I feel I took away from watching the performance everything that there is to take away. I “digested” a small fraction of what was given to me; the rest, as Ido says, dripped between the cracks.
But even having never been to see such dances, I got the impression that these guys represent a very high level of talent in dance and performance. There was a distinct palpable energy, this tension in the air that made you uncomfortable to sit. It seemed less about amazing physical feats, and more about an internal substance being burned, like the process of sublimation, transforming this substance into a powerful moment.
I walked away understanding that you can’t passively watch such a performance. For a person immersed in this culture, it might be that second nature, but for someone just stepping into it, you need to actively cultivate your attention towards details. Which details, I’m not sure. Afterwards, Gavri explained to me that how you observe a dance might depend on the intention of the artistic director. I never liked the idea of having to think about things to appreciate them. Clearly this dogma is failing me. I look forward to future dance performances, to the challenge of changing how I watch.