Dance doesn't often do audience participation. One of the biggest surprises in this show came when the Batsheva Dance Company brought a dozen people up on stage, dancing to smoochy Dean Martin numbers. But this wasn't teasing: the mood was affectionate, dance as something welcoming.
Deca Dance 2008 is a greatest-hits show for the Israel-based company and its artistic director Ohad Naharin. Deca Dance originally celebrated 10 years of his work for the company. For the Edinburgh Festival, Naharin put together a new set of scenes, in a sequence decided on the night.
The contrasts are deliberate: Vivaldi next to Arab or Israeli folk music, stomping group numbers next to duets. Naharin likes ensembles, lines of dancers repeating actions in canon or in unison. Sometimes a single dancer will peel off, going against the flow.
The best-known of these works is probably Virus. Dressed in suits and hats, the cast sit in a circle of chairs. One by one, they stand and sit, in a Mexican wave that ends with the last guy collapsing to the floor.
Between waves, they move independently, jumping on to chairs, rocking. The steps are simple, but Batsheva perform them with a collective force, driving themselves onwards.
Other numbers are weaker. The show's compilation format does show off Naharin's favourite devices: that torso shake with pumping arms, the variations on sitting down. Repetition certainly becomes another familiar device.
In another sequence, the soundtrack counts to 10, dancers doing a step for each number. As different dancers enter, singly or in groups, they do different sequences, their different sets of 10 crossing over. Naharin's patterns are never particularly complex.
Still, there's a bouncy energy about the performance. Even shaking fists, the dancers don't sink into gloom or aggression. And there's the unexpected warmth of that Martin number. Brought on stage, the audience are guided into steps, encouraged to copy or to do their own thing. Their Batsheva partners look after them or stand back to admire. In any form, it's rare to see audience participation as sweet as this.Reuse content