Interview: Batsheva Ensemble Q&A

Tuesday 13 November 2012 by Hannah Dye

Or Schraiber, Batsheva Ensemble. Image: Christ Nash

Batsheva Ensemble is the younger strand of Batsheva Dance Company, made up of dancers aged 18 – 24 who are selected annually from approximately 300 dancers from around the world. Batsheva Ensemble is touring the UK for the first time with Deca Dance, visiting London next week (19 -21 November)
We caught up with 20 year old Or Schraiber, who has been a member of Batsheva Ensemble for two years. He tells us about his journey into dance and what we can expect from their London performance at Sadler’s Wells…

You will be performing at Sadler’s Wells, London, later this month. Tell us about Deca Dance ..
This is quite a hard question to answer in a way as I’ve never actually experienced Deca Dance as an audience member, only as a performer. I hope audiences will find the show inspiring, and uplifting. There is a moment in the show when we invite members of the audience on stage, and this part of the production is always really exciting for us. The people who join us on stage are not dancers and all react in different ways, so this part always creates something really unique and beautiful.

Your Ensemble performs to young audiences, offer dance workshops and access to open rehearsals. How do your younger audiences respond to the unique ‘Gaga’ style?
We tour this production to schools all over Israel, and the reaction of the young audiences we perform to is really fascinating. Mostly they have never seen any contemporary dance before, and are not used to sitting for an hour or more to see a show like Deca Dance. At first they can be quite noisy, laughing and messing around, but then you can see their attention start to focus as they become drawn in by what they are watching. After the show the students we perform to tell us how surprised they are by how much they enjoyed seeing the show, and we often have students wanting to have their picture taken with us!

You are also touring to other UK destinations. What challenges does the company come across when adapting to new stages/ spaces?
It’s definitely a challenge adapting to different stages. The stages we have performed on so far during the tour have all been quite different dimensions. We have to adapt the measurements of our steps to fit the stage, so you really have to concentrate on your position during every performance. Even so, I think it adds a really interesting quality to our performance and it really makes us think. Personally I like it!

What do you enjoy most about being part of Basheva Ensemble?
One of the best things about being a dancer in the Ensemble is not only that you get to meet other incredible dancers who are at your level, but also that we get to train with the dancers in the Batsheva Dance Company (the senior company). Every day we have ga-ga lessons with the senior dancers, and getting to work with such experienced, intelligent and interesting performers really helps us develop. We also get to work collaboratively on the choreographing of new work which is incredibly rewarding – being a dancer in Batsheva is not just about performing, but about creating too.

How did you get in to dance?
My route to dance is a slightly unusual one! I was first a keen footballer when I was younger, and did a lot of football training, so I was very physically fit. Then I left middle school, and before starting high school I tried a folk dancing class and found I really enjoyed it. I probably wouldn’t have taken this any further but my girlfriend really encouraged me to keep going with it – so I guess you could say I am the dancer I am today because of her!

Folk dance is features on the curriculum in schools in Israel. Is this something that has influenced the dancer you are today?
Folk dance is popular, and everybody does it. There is very good access to dance in schools because of this, which is probably why Israel seems to produce really wonderful dancers.

What piece of advice would you give aspiring young dancers?
Firstly you have to be passionate about what you do. You have to love dance from your heart otherwise your dancing won’t have any honesty. You must enjoy every minute on stage, because those moments are precious. Secondly the best advice I can give is to clear your mind when you perform. Don’t think about anything but the dance and don’t let distractions or worries weigh you down.

Batsheva Ensemble perform at Sadler’s Wells 19-21 November. To book visit www.sadlerswells.com or call 0844 4124300

Find out more
Batsheva Dance Company
Batsheva Ensemble Dancers

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