Tour organisers hail Batsheva triumph despite boycott campaign


The organisers of a UK tour of Israeli dancers have hailed it as a huge success even after the performances were plagues by protests and disruptions.

More than 10,000 people attended performances in cities including Bradford and Birmingham, with 2,500 also joining Question and Answer sessions and workshops throughout the tour.

From the first night in Edinburgh to the final standing ovation in Plymouth last Saturday, the 18 dancers – who have an average age of 20 and are not all from Israel – endured catcalls about Palestinian blood and Israeli apartheid as they performed. In Plymouth, one of the protesters smuggled in a megaphone and screamed "Israel is a stain on humanity," but the dancers maintained their composure. Outside all the venues anti-Israel protesters gathered wielding posters, burning tickets and shouting slogans as audience members made their way into the venues.

Each of the eight venues that staged the show was forced to bring in extra security, so much so that ticket-holders reported feeling like they were at an airport.

But despite the best efforts of boycott campaigners from the umbrella group Don't Dance With Israeli Apartheid, just one of date was cancelled, and the 15 performances received five star reviews and critical praise.

A spokesman for dance Consortium said the organisation was "thrilled" with how the tour had gone. "We are extremely proud to have brought this exceptional group of young artists to a UK audience," he said. "The enthusiasm of the audiences throughout the tour cannot be overstated, with standing ovations at virtually every curtain call.

"The critical reception for the company has also been exceedingly good."

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