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Batsheva goes back to basics

Bringing an Israeli dance company to New York for a two-week season is an expensive proposition. Batsheva and the Joyce manage it by offering a stripped-down bill, four short pieces and a clever videotaped “pause,” with alternating five-member casts on a bare stage.

Bringing an Israeli dance company to New York for a two-week season is an expensive proposition. Batsheva and the Joyce manage it by offering a stripped-down bill, four short pieces and a clever videotaped “pause,” with alternating five-member casts on a bare stage.

Some nights all the performers are women, barelegged and sleek. Other shows have all-male casts. The program runs more or less in reverse chronological order, beginning with the 2006 “George and Zalman,” set to a plaintive Arvo Pärt piano score and a poem by Charles Bukowsky, with diction fluctuating from academic to profane.

Choreographer Ohad Naharin, who’s directed this troupe since 1990, began his career dancing for Martha Graham, the original patroness of Batsheva. His 1985 work “Black Milk” has some of the dramatic intensity and swirling costumes of his mentor; the women enact a ritual involving smearing themselves with mud. This piece retains a conventional “dance” look, with delicious air turns and emotional exchanges among the performers.

 
 
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