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Batsheva Dance Company

Batsheva Dance Company

The Batsheva Dance Company—a renowned dance company based in Tel Aviv, Israel—was founded by Martha Graham and Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild in 1964.

Batsheva’s inception was marked by Israel's growing interest in American modern dance, mainly Martha Graham and Anna Sokolow. Classes in the Graham technique began being offered at the time, some of which were taught by Rina Schenfeld and Rena Gluck, the company's original principal dancers. Bethsabee de Rothschild withdrew her funding in 1975, and the company gradually shed the Graham aesthetic that had dominated the company's early years. It was during this transitional period that the company began to include the works of emerging Israeli choreographers into its repertory.

Soon after Ohad Naharin was appointed artistic director in 1990, he founded the youth company Batsheva Ensemble for dancers ages 18-24; graduates include choreographers Hofesh Shechter and Itzik Galili. The ensemble toured the United Kingdom and performed at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2012.

Naharin also developed a movement language—Gaga—which has become the movement language that the Batsheva Dance Company trains in under the Gaga/Dancers track, geared toward professional dancers, specifically the dancers of Batsheva. The Gaga/People track is geared toward anyone and requires no dance experience. The 2015 documentary “Mr. Gaga,” created by Tomer Heymann, explores how Gaga has influenced and shaped both the Batsheva Dance Company and modern dance as a whole.