Rethinking works past and present

Decadance is an evolving retrospective for Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and comprises excerpts from different works.
Decadance is an evolving retrospective for Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and comprises excerpts from different works.PHOTO: MAXIM WARATT

In 2000, Decadance was created to celebrate 10 years of Ohad Naharin helming Batsheva Dance Company.

The performance is an evolving retrospective of sorts for the Israeli choreographer, comprising excerpts from different works. It is often updated as the company's repertoire expands.

"I think Ohad discovered that it was a unique opportunity for him and the dancers to visit the works, from now and also from the past - to rethink and reorganise it," says Batsheva's senior rehearsal director Luc Jacobs.

"Sometimes, it comes out better than in the original context."


  • WHERE: Esplanade Theatre, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Oct 21 and 22, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $20 to $100 from Sistic (go to or call 6348-5555)

Belgium-born Jacobs, 47, used to be a dancer with Batsheva and was appointed rehearsal director in 2005. Decadance will be staged as part of da:ns festival on Oct 21 and 22. It runs for 75 minutes.

It features varying styles of music, from Jewish Passover song Echad Mi Yodea and Palestine folk music to the sounds of Vivaldi and The Beach Boys.

When asked what Decadance is about, Jacobs says the work does not try to say anything in particular, although audiences are welcome to create their own meaning. "There is room to interpret events and sections of the work," he says.

"But on another level, my sense of our company's work is that it's a lot about the thing itself, such as the composition and our philosophy of movement."

The philosophy he is referring to is gaga, a body-aware movement language pioneered by Naharin. Classes in Batsheva do not have mirrors to prevent dancers from being preoccupied with their image.

Instead, they are encouraged to practise a deep listening to their bodies. Of course, this does not mean the dancers are focused only inwards.

In Decadance, there is a segment where audience members are invited on stage to be part of the show. They are randomly selected and the interactions between them and the dancers are improvised, though some think otherwise. 

Jacobs says: "There is usually a strong separation between the viewer and performer. When that separation is suspended, it can result in a moving and liberating experience. I never grow tired of watching it." 

Nabilah Said

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2016, with the headline 'Rethinking works past and present'. Print Edition | Subscribe