Dance review: Batsheva Ensemble, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

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“Ignore”. That was the first word spoken during a voiceover in the opening moments of Deca Dance. It wasn’t something special, added in for the occasion – it’s always there – but tonight it had a special resonance.

Batsheva Ensemble

Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Star rating: * * * *

Back in August, when the main Batsheva company played Edinburgh, the dancers paused each time a futile interruption from anti-Israeli protestors came their way. But not this time. Instead, during the eight shout-outs the ensemble (Batsheva’s youth wing) kept right on going.

Created over a period of 20 years by Batsheva’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin, Deca Dance changes almost on a monthly basis. Featuring slow, thought-provoking ensemble pieces, high energy routines, a sensual duet, and quite possibly the most joyous bit of audience interaction you’ll ever see, it’s a work that bears a few repeat viewings.

Aged just 18-23, the ensemble’s dancers are still learning their craft, but they’re already technically strong, sharply synchronised and more than capable of injecting a vast well of emotion into their performance.

What grabs you most about Batsheva, however (both the main company and its funky little ensemble sister), is the way these dancers move. Naharin has devised an entirely unique dance style called Gaga, and it is this that marks his companies out as different. Fluid, dynamic, expansive yet delicate, animalistic yet profoundly human, Gaga gives his dancers a whole other vocabulary with which to speak to us. And, despite the vain attempts to block it, their voices came through loud and clear.