In what will be his last tour with the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company, Omri Drumlevich will bring Israeli dance to four Canadian cities in the new year.
From Jan. 11 to 21, Drumlevich and the Batsheva Dance Company, one of the best contemporary dance companies in the world, will perform in Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec City and Montreal.
Drumlevich, 24, who has been dancing with Batsheva since 2010, said he discovered his talent for dance when he was 12 years old, which is considered late in the professional dance world.
“I went to the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance for high school and junior high,” he said.
“I was always drawn to the stage, looking for a way onto it. I started at the age of five playing the violin, and when I was eight, even though my teacher refused to acknowledge what I was saying, it wasn’t for me… I got into dance completely by accident. I didn’t expect it to go so far, but here we are.”
In 2010, Drumlevich joined Batsheva’s Young Ensemble before moving on two years later to the Batsheva Dance Company.
He said that as a blossoming teenage dancer in the Young Ensemble, he had the opportunity to develop a relationship with Ohad Naharin, Batsheva’s artistic director since 1990, and the founder of a movement language Naharin called Gaga, which has been adopted by some of the best contemporary dance companies in the world.
“Gaga is a movement language that we are training in every day. More and more companies around the world are deciding to take this training and make it more of a main part of their training,” Drumlevich said.
He explained that Gaga is not a technique or a series of specific movements. Rather, “we use it as a language for the repertoire we do here… We talk a lot with Gaga about explosive power or texture. In Gaga, we will research this element and we will do different things with it and find ways to interpret it in our bodies.”
Drumlevich said Gaga is a way to connect words to movement more easily and efficiently, “as opposed to trying to describe an abstract and vague idea.”
“It very much depends on your interpretation. For one person, if you tell him to move like fire, he might move very slow and very mysteriously, but for another person, he might move like a burst of fire and move very quickly and explosively, so in order to make it more clear what we’re talking about when we talk about movement, Ohad started this research… and saw that there was a point to share this research beyond the company,” he said.
Explaining further, Drumlevich likened the way dancers understand the movement language to the way people understand verbal language.
“If two people look at a picture, we decide to call it a picture. When we’re out in the field and I use the word picture, you would see the picture in your head. It’s an agreement between us. In Gaga, we can start researching the way texture is incorporated in our movement. Not metaphorical texture that is only in our head, but physical texture, in the way you flex a muscle, you make your muscle thicker. When you relax the muscle, you make the muscle softer,” he said.
The Toronto show, taking place at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Jan. 14 as part of Decadance 2017, will feature selected excerpts from Batsheva shows dating back to 1995.
It will also be the last time Drumlevich will dance as part of the Batsheva troupe.
“I’ll be going off on my own to create, to dance and to study film. The company will go back to Israel and I will go to San Francisco to start a new journey,” he said.
Batsheva will also perform in a show called Last Work at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Jan. 11-12 at the Grand Theatre de Quebec in Quebec City on Jan. 17, and at Place des Arts in Montreal Jan. 19 to 21.