Tonight I went to Batsheva Dance Company’s show “Decadance” with a few of My Lovely Dancers, hereafter referred to as MLDs.
First of all, don’t ask me to pronounce the company name out loud. Whenever one of MLDs says it, I think they are saying something else. For example: MLD: “I’m so excited for that shaver!” Me: “Eh?” MLD: “Uh, the show tomorrow night? Batsheva?”
Second of all, please know that my reviews of shows will always include the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is EXTREMELY rare for me to rave about a show in its entirety. So rare in fact, that it hasn’t happened yet. So, uh, yeah, you’ve been warned, don’t be offended. Or just don’t read.
So, to start off, I went with some of MLDs, as mentioned, because, well, my husband hates modern dance. I initially bought us both tickets, then realizing it was very modern, and that he would rather poke his eyes out or shave his head than watch modern dance (and though he is handsome as all get out, shaving his large head, I fear, would make him look too much like Humpty Dumpty), I invited one of MLDs to be my date.
Okay, so on to the review.
Overall, the company was full of BEAUTIFUL, well trained, extremely strong, energetic, and versatile dancers. They were IMPRESSIVE in their skills and energy. Well done to each individual.
The show started off super strong. They had a preshow of a guy doing a lot of…. moving. Sweat was flailing, the audience loved it. I didn’t realize I was supposed to be watching for a bit, so I was freeing up storage space on my phone, but he had a lot of energy and jumped around a lot. Not a ton to say there.
But then the first number came on. 16 dancers strong, and on the humongous stage of the Segerstrom Theater in Costa Mesa, I was stunned by how much it felt like 30 people out there. I kept re-counting, because their ability to own the stage and fill the space with their energy was astounding. They went in to the dancing portion as a semi-circle on chairs, wearing suits. I have those moments when watching dance where I feel a sort of, “Yeah! That’s it” sort of goofy smile inside and out that I get when something brilliant is done. That happened for me in two spots in the first number – first when they went down the semi-circle in a ripple flinging themselves back into a arched back, Matrix-like pose that they held until the last one would try and fall to the ground. It was impressive.
The second happened when they all stood strong and at the top of their lungs sang with the music a short phrase (in another language). After going on to other movement, this was repeated. The second time it was repeated felt like a second serving of dessert – a pleasurable reminder of the memory, something you crave, but on reflection maybe not as good for you as you’d hoped, and certainly with less power than the first. They went on to repeat it probably 6-10 more times in the rest of the dance, so by the end I was just bugged. But, I get ahead of myself, this is “The Good.”
Amidst the plethora of modern dance slow and awkward moments (but not too much slow, these dancers had POWER and ENERGY!), there were several great lifts, rhythms, and by and large my biggest positive takeaway was how flexible and fluid their spines were. They were back and forward and all over, and rather than making my back ache as it usually does, I wanted to do it with them, like it was something my back has been missing and why it is so stiff.
Every time I go to a modern dance performance, there is a certain percentage of it that is ruined by what I will call the Modern Dance Audience Member, or M’Dam. Let me tell you about M’dam. First of all, they are ALWAYS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME. (No, Michelle, it wasn’t you) They seem so very excited to be there, clapping and “Woo”ing all over the place at the beginning of the show. And then it starts: The nose laughing and the “Oh!”s.
The nose laughing happens whenever the dancers do something bizarre, which is a lot in a modern dance show. It’s not a mocking laugh, or an embarrassed laugh, those I DEFINITELY understand. It’s a “Oh we are supposed to laugh here” laugh. No, believe it or not, most modern dancers don’t think that 50% of what they do is funny, and I don’t either. I think it’s even less funny when someone is nose laughing right next to me.
The “Oh!”s. This happens when anyone lifts someone else. It doesn’t happen when really difficult moves or positions are hit, just on the lifts. And maybe big jumps. But it’s said out loud, often, and it is really distracting. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to shush them, but haven’t.
Speaking of inappropriate times to make noise, they had a duet between two guys, with romantic undertones (overtones?). So here’s the thing: People giggle during homosexual references in dance shows. I’m just being blunt. Yes, I have my own opinions about it, but what puzzles me, is that in this society that is all about making sure you are accepting of the lifestyle, why the giggling?? We don’t giggle when a heterosexual couple dances together. Are people embarrassed? Do they think it’s a joke? I just don’t understand the M’dams out there that giggle during dance shows.
I was super glad the show was only 70 min. I am not the most patient show sitter, even for my favorite shows (AKA Cirque Du Soleil, I’ve seen 10 of them… ). This one didn’t overstay its welcome, but I was ready for the end. I don’t remember much of the rest of the show, other than lots of girating, some mooning the audience that I avoided seeing, and a ton of repetition that seems common in modern dance and, ironically, ballet.
After the show I met up with more of MLDs, and they were all jumping around and smiling and shouting “Wasn’t that AMAZING???” Okay, slight exaggeration. But they were all glowing, ready to sign up to be on the company on the spot. One of them shared how the first number made them tear up, and at this point in the evening I literally had to think, “Oh crap, what was the first number?”
WHY CAN’T I BE NORMAL??
I just know there’s more out there. Crazy as it is, I think there’s more out there than the most amazing shows. I love them. I LOVE live shows in a crazy obsessive embarrassing giddy way. Then I judge them and walk away wanting a little more. I’ll find it. But in the mean time, enjoy my snarky reviews of other people’s shows.