Movement language of Ohad Naharin and the Batsheva Dance Company
“We are listening, seeing, measuring, playing with the texture of our flesh, we might be silly, decorating our inside, we can laugh at ourselves. We learn to love our sweat, we discover our passion to move and connect it to effort, we discover both the animal in us and the power of our imagination.” (Ohad Naharin, 2008)
Amidst fears of dance losing its artistic essence, Ohad Naharin is dedicated to preserving the integrity of what dance is: an opportunity to explore our physicality and imagination, and be connected to our own bodies in an organic way.
Enter Gaga. Gaga is the brainchild of Naharin, founder of the acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Gaga, put simply, is a movement language that encourages dancers to ‘move “from the inside out” to connect the imagination to the body’. Gaga is the primary movement style and training for dancers of the company. While Naharin believes that dancers should have the training classical techniques provide, Gaga adds another layer of understanding and exploration beyond technique alone.
A typical Gaga class takes place in a room without mirrors in an effort to focus the dancer on his/her own body, imagination, psyche and movement. More importantly, it takes away self-consciousness and self-correction. Gaga is not about flawlessness. It is about sensation, investigation and exploration. To open the dancer to new experiences, impulses and textures, prompts are provided and layered upon each other. It may begin with something as vague as ‘float’ and extend to a visceral situation such as ‘imagine the ground you are standing on is shaking’. Through these prompts, sensations and awareness of both the individual body as well as the space are awakened.
While relatively new, Gaga has taken the dance world by storm. It asks what the body can naturally achieve through sensation, rather than what the body can be taught. Ultimately, Naharin says, “Dance is about sensations, not about an image of yourself.”
Photo credit: Gadi Dagon