Ohad Naharin, who has led the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv since 1990 and has established the troupe as one of the world’s great dance ensembles, will step down as its artistic director in September 2018, the company announced late last week. The position will be taken by Gili Navot, a former Batsheva dancer and rehearsal director, while Mr. Naharin will continue to hold the position of house choreographer.
The decision is not unprecedented for dance directors who combine the heavy workload of creative and administrative duties. Jiri Kylian took the same step in 1999, when he stepped down as artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater after running the company for 24 years, and in 2008 Alexei Ratmansky resigned as artistic director of the Bolshoi, taking up a choreographic position with American Ballet Theater the following year.
In a letter to subscribers and donors, sent in Hebrew on Thursday and in English on Friday, Mr. Naharin wrote that he had been contemplating “for some years” how to keep a long-term relationship with the company. Resigning as artistic director, he said, would allow him to dedicate himself to creating new work and refining the movement language known as Gaga, which he has developed with the Batsheva dancers and which is now taught worldwide.
Mr. Naharin, whose distinctive style and theatrical aesthetic have established him as a major figure in the dance world, transformed the fortunes of Batsheva, which was founded in 1964 by Martha Graham and Batsheva de Rothschild. In his letter, he said that Ms. Navot, 36, had “outstanding leadership qualities necessary for management.” He added, “I am certain that this step is an improvement which will enable us to contend successfully with our challenges, new as old.”
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