I ATTENDED the first performance of Hora by the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel at Edinburgh’s Playhouse last night.
The performers were 11 in number – seven women and four men. Two of the women were clearly of Eastern appearance and one of the men was black. The troupe thus provided a good gender and ethnic balance.
Also, I was rather taken to hear the music change briefly to include Richard Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries. As you will know, Wagner was antisemitic and, indeed, performance of his work has been subject to (unwritten) restrictions in Israel.
The signals sent by Batsheva’s performance included a self-evident rejection of ethnic “chauvinism” and a demonstration of separating art from politics. I wish them well.
Neil A Thomson
Wester Drylaw Park
Where is the sense in disrupting a purely cultural activity that celebrates contemporary dance?
I was dismayed to witness the efforts to boycott the Batsheva dance company last night. I agree with Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burke who pointed out that it is unfair to target institutions and individuals for no other reason than they are from Israel. It goes against the history of cultural freedom we enjoy here.
I WAS very saddened that an arts performance at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival was targeted by a group of anti-Israel activists.
A similar act of “cultural vandalism” occurred at last year’s Proms in London. Such ill-conceived acts are highly discriminatory and will do nothing to promote a peaceful solution to the long-running Israeli/Palestinian problem.
I would like to thank the Festival chief, Jonathan Mills, for standing up to these bullying tactics and for robustly defending his decision to invite the dance troupe to Edinburgh.
So Liz Lochhead and other Scottish literati believe the visit by the Batsheva Dance Company to Edinburgh as part of the Festival should have been cancelled (The Arts, 30 August).
Ms Lochhead has long since nailed her colours to the mast. In April, she performed at the CCA Glasgow during a “night of poetry and music for Palestine” to help fund a trip for musicians and poets to the West Bank and run workshops around Bethlehem and to perform in East Jerusalem.
She is quoted as saying that Palestinians are treated like non-humans, but I wonder if she has visited Gazan bookshops or book markets in the West Bank. She would quickly see, leafing through items there, how Israelis are regarded.
I am guessing that a visit to Sderot and other communities in Israel’s western Negev, regularly attacked by terrorists, were never shortlisted for her visit.
Graeme D Eddie
Dunbar, East Lothian
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