Anaphase (Dance Piece)

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Date: 1988

Region: The Middle East

Subject: Religion

Medium: Performance Art, Dance, Music


Artist: Ohad Naharin and the Batsheva Dance Company

Confronting Bodies: Israel's Theater Censorship Board and haredim, an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect

Dates of Action: May 1988

Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Description of Artwork: "Anaphase" is a tribute to Israel's evolution to liberalization. The controversial elements of the piece feature 28 dancers who remove their outer garments while seated on wooden chairs and the performance of a traditional Jewish song, Echad Mi Yodea, by a well known Israeli rock band.

The Incident: "Anaphase" was celebrated both in Israel and in the United States. However, the haredim opposed its performance at the celebration of Israel's 50th anniversary of independence from British mandate. The religious conservatives, supported by the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, opposed the stripping scene and the rock version of Echad Mi Yodea, a song traditionally played at Passover. "Anaphase" was struck from the festival.

Results of Incident: In 1991 the Theater Censorship Board was abolished; subsequently, Israelis have enjoyed more artistic freedom. Naharin and the Batsheva Dance Company produced a response to the censorship, depicting the obstinance of the religious right.

Source: Censorship, A World Encyclopedia, ed. D. Jones