Attention Angelenos! This will be your LAST CHANCE to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater present Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 as the piece will be retired from the Ailey repertoire after this current tour! This month at The Music Center, you have not one, but two opportunities to catch Minus 16 in the POWER OF AILEY program: Wed April 15 @ 7:30pm & Sat April 18 @7:30pm.
The reasons to celebrate this remarkable piece as it is presented by this powerhouse company are countless, but we’ve compiled a few you may not have already known to help entice you.
Horton goes Gaga!
While Naharin is most notably regarded as the Director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, he is also known in the contemporary dance circles for his “Gaga” technique- an approach to dance improvisation and choreography where mirrors are covered and movements are explored from the most organic instincts, with sometimes explosive and unexpected impulses. When Minus 16 was set on AAADT, Danielle Agami (keeping the world small, she’s founder and director of LA’s own Ate9Dance) taught a Gaga class before the company even approached the choreography. If you are a fan of Ailey, then you know how strong the dancers are in the grounding Horton technique, but what resulted from this experience was an intense marriage between the two iconic styles.
Speaking of marriage!
While Minus 16 was brought into the Ailey repertoire in 2011, after Robert Battle was appointed as Artistic Director, the piece had been originally created in 1999 and had traveled the world extensively with Batsheva Dance Company as well as several others. Naharin is known to be open to interpretations of his work- encouraging improvisation and expansion as it is set on other companies. However, what set the Ailey version apart for Naharin was the closeness of the company to his heart. There is a duet that sometimes appears in Minus 16, but not always. In the Ailey rep the duet is definitely there and definitely different. It is dedicated to Mari Kajiwara: Naharin’s late wife and Ailey dancer from 1970 to 1984. Naharin and Kajiwara’s beginnings were in New York – swirling around and within the vibrant energy of modern dance at the time. She became Ailey’s personal assistant until following her husband to Israel in his appointment with Batsheva Dance Company.
You may be familiar with the riots that were caused with Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) at the Paris Opera over 100 years ago. And you may also question a dance performance causing an audience to feel so riled up as to actually riot! Well, while Minus 16 caused no riot, it did cause great controversy when selected to be presented for an anniversary celebration of the state of Israel. As with The Rite of Spring, you will most decidedly not find offense when you see this piece at The Music Center, but enough debate and negotiations ensued over Israel’s anniversary performance that the issue reached the Prime Minister’s office and when the time came to perform the piece, the dancers walked out in defiance!
The final portion of Minus 16 includes an element of surprise which ensures that every performance is different, and keeps the piece alive- even if you have seen it before! While Minus 16 opens with visuals filled with power, it is maybe how the piece ends that really instills the audience with a sense of power and the sense that absolutely anything can happen!
More so than maybe any other repertory piece, we think you’ll find that Ailey has interpreted Minus 16 in a way that’s truly unique to the company. By seizing this last chance to see them perform it, you’ll be all the more enlightened to how this piece gets translated, as it will surely continue to take its shape on many different companies in the years to come. It’s a whirlwind of expressions from the rawest parts of us. It’s a visceral and tangible energy that comes from both Naharin and Ailey, creating quite possibly one of the most inspiring artistic impressions you’ll ever see… We know you’re going to love it LA!