Batsheva tour hosts insist: no boycott here

Activists planning a nationwide campaign against an Israeli dance company as it tours Britain will not succeed in stopping the shows, the organisers have vowed.

Starting at the end of this month in Edinburgh, the Batsheva Ensemble (the youth company of the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company) will stage Deca Dance on 16 occasions, in Bradford, Salford, Birmingham, Brighton, Plymouth, Leicester and London.

The company received standing ovations at the Edinburgh International Festival this summer, but the shows were marred by protests outside and repeated disruptions by supporters of a cultural boycott of Israel.

The boycotters, under the umbrella of “no to brand Israel” have made clear their intentions to do the same throughout the tour.

But John Stalker, the co-chair of Dance Consortium, which is organising the tour, said the shows would take place as planned.

Describing Batsheva as “one of the world’s most accomplished and innovative dance companies”, he said it was “absolutely right that they should be presented within our artistic programme.”

His comments were backed by the chief executive of the Birmingham Hippodrome, which will host the Israelis on November 13 and 14. Stuart Griffiths said the venue was delighted to be welcoming Batsheva’s dancers to the UK and said that while different opinions would always exist, “the artist is the first to stand up for free speech and freedom of expression”.

The Birmingham boycott campaign is being arranged the help of Sue Blackwell, a former lecturer in English at the University of Birmingham known for mounting attacks on Israel.

Last week she helped arrange a day of Action pushing for the Hippodrome to cancel Batsheva’s two performances, asking supporters to tweet the venue using the phrase “#noapartheidinbrum”.

Last updated: 12:43pm, October 12 2012