“BOBBY JENE”— Ambition

“Bobbi Jene”


Amos Lassen

Elvira Lind’s “Bobbi Jene ” is a love story in which we see the dilemmas and consequences of ambition. It is a film about a woman’s fight for independence by a woman trying to succeed with her own art in the competitive world of dance. The film profiles dancer/choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith as she leaves Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company and returns to America to advance her career. Smith just turns 30 when the film begins and she is at a crossroads that calls for tough decisions. She loves dancing in Ohad Naharin’s company and she is in love with a fellow dancer, Or Schraiber, who is ten years her junior. Dancing with Batsheva, however, meant relegating herself to the ensemble this making her simply a part of Naharin’s stage. As challenging and rewarding as Smith finds the dancing to be, she wants to establish herself in her own right and make the leap that will a secure a career for her as she ages.


Moving to New York brings its own challenges. One major hurdle is the choice to continue a long distance relationship. Schraiber doesn’t feel ready to leave Israel, so Smith and her beau stay connected through Skype. We see the passion of their relationship in Israel and when they reunite after being an ocean apart. Smith weighs love with her career and strives to have both.

Smith knows that the success of dance is fleeting and doesn’t bring financial security. “She supports her passion by teaching and mentoring. Having danced in Naharin’s company brings a measure of esteem to the New York dance scene that gives her an edge. We see that dancing has its own therapeutic rewards.We get a very intimate look at Smith’s personal and professional life. She first met choreographer Ohad Naharin  and his unique form of contemporary dance and she as able to gain a position with the Company and moved to Israel. She worked her way to the top of the Company’s ranks and even though she and Naharin were no longer lovers, they remained extremely close.

With her dancing days numbered because of her age, she wanted to fulfill a passion to develop her own work as a choreographer which meant that she had to leave the company. Aside from a six-month teaching residency at Stanford University, Smith had no plans. It was not only leaving Batsheva but also leaving fellow dancer Or Schraiber with who she was madly in love.  Schraiber was just at the very start of his career, and in fact in a similar situation as Smith was in when she came to Israel as a complete unknown. Despite his commitment to their relationship, Schraiber had no desire to settle in the U.S. or leave his extended family whom he was very close too.

Because she was a star at Batsheva, Smith had a credibility in NY but as work opportunities were not as plentiful as she may have hoped. We see her discuss the career/life limitations of being a contemporary dance professional and these make her absence from Schraiber very difficult. On the rare times the two are together, they can hardly take their hands off each other. We see a very impassioned performance piece that she has been commissioned by the Jewish Museum to do and this becomes the focal point of the documentary. It was certainly a big risk because of its eroticism. But with it, Smith has realizes that no amount of success however is worth it unless she can share it with Schraiber on a full time basis.

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