Next weekend, March 17-18 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (ATRU), Batsheva Dance Company makes a return visit to the Chicago stage. The world-renown Israeli company lead by Artistic Director Ohad Naharin impressed audiences last season with their honest, human performances. Local audiences that missed these shows may still be familiar with some of their work. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) has incorporated five of Naharin’s pieces in their repertoire since 2000, including the 2011 premiere THREE TO MAX, which has bits of his 2007 work Max woven into its fabric. Joining Max on the March bill, is a duet for two women set to a synthesized version of the familiar music of Ravel’s Bolero.
The Batsheva dancers landed in California in late February beginning a five-week North American tour that will take them from San Francisco to Montreal, New York City (NY), Tulsa (OK), Chicago, Austin (TX) and Scottsdale (AZ). After a day off to rest and a couple of days of rehearsing, the dancers were still shaking off the last dregs of jet lag prior to their first show. “When we went on stage it was 5:00 am in Tel Aviv,” said Rachael Osborne, company dancer and rehearsal director. “It felt like traveling in a stick of mud, but it became it’s own creature, it’s own texture.” Osborne, 31, has been with the Batsheva, first in the Ensemble and then the main company, for a decade. After graduating from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia, Osborne was uninspired by the national dance scene considered giving up dancing. She had a season subscription to a local theater where Batsheva was performing on tour and saw the show and fell in love. After taking a workshop with Naharin and his late wife Mari Kajiwara, she had a private 15-minute audition and made an impression. “He later said I caught his eye immediately.” Naharin invited her to join the Batsheva Ensemble in 2001.
Osborne will be performing Max during the Chicago run. The work for ten dancers runs an hour with no intermission. “We really enjoy performing Max,” she said. ” The framework is very tight. It’s a challenge to find freedom in side the framework.” The Gaga Technique Naharin developed helps to keep the now three-year-old work fresh. Osborne describes the technique as working inside form by exploring different textures, like method actors. The intention is to connect to your senses and find the pleasure in movement. As for preparing for a show where you need to keep your physical and emotional stamina on alert for 60 minutes? She doesn’t think about it. “You can’t try to plan. It’s better to be in the moment and be true to sensing what’s happening.”
Batsheva Dance Company, Sat., March 17 at 7:30 pm & Sun., March 18 at 2 pm. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. Tickets are $30-$90. Call 800.982.2787.