After ten years as part of the Batsheva Dance Company in Israel, Bobbi Jene Smith is returning to the U.S. to create her own avant garde works. Elvira Lind’s documentary Bobbi Jene chronicles her two year journey, her work, and the personal struggles it entails.
The film opens with Bobbi Jene telling her mentor Ohed Naharin about her decision to return to the U.S. She has had a very successful dance career with the company, but she says that even after ten years, Israel doesn’t feel like home to her. She is also anxious to begin developing her own choreography. But to do that she must leave Or, the man with whom she is in a relationship with. For Or, Israel is home. He is strongly attached to the country and has no desire to leave.
The film shows us bits of her work, both with Batsheva before she returns home and as she develops her new programs. Her work is very energetic. There is also a strong sense of nakedness, both physical and emotional.
But the most engaging parts of the film involve the struggle to maintain a long distance relationship. This is a struggle between relationship and career, that many people face at some point. Most of the film is done in a fly-on-the-wall style, merely observing what is happening. Toward the end, Bobbi Jene begins addressing the camera to reflect on her life and choices.
This is a film with a fairly narrow audience. Those who know about modern dance, and especially the gaga approach to it, could find much of interest here. Others may not be as engaged by the film.
Photos courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories