Batsheva dancers cheered in Edinburgh

By Jennifer Lipman, November 1, 2012

An Israeli dance troupe on stage in Edinburgh endured jeering and disturbances from pro-Palestinian activists at the opening performance of a UK tour.

The performers, who are from the youth ensemble of the Batsheva Dance Company and are not all Israeli, spent two nights in Scotland this week with their acclaimed Deca Dance.

Around 150 boycott supporters gathered at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre on Tuesday, shouting slogans such as “your tickets are covered in blood”.

Inside, demonstrators interrupted the show six times in the first half and twice in the second half with screams of “Free Palestine”. Although the house lights were brought up so that security staff could remove protesters, the dancers continued without missing a step.

Despite protests, the reaction from the crowd and the critics was positive, with a standing ovation at the end. In a four-star review, The Scotsman praised the dancers for having “just kept right on going” throughout each “futile interruption from anti-Israeli protesters”.

After the show, Batsheva’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin, conducted a Q&A with audience members. When one woman asked how he justified taking money from a government that practised ethnic cleansing, Mr Naharin urged her to stay and debate the issues. But she stormed out.

Last updated: 12:40pm, November 1 2012