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Going Gaga: My Intro to Gaga Dance Classes

Posted on 25 November 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

(Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin's "Three" - photo by Gadi Dagon)

(Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin's "Three" - photo by Gadi Dagon)

A year after beginning my study of Gaga, the movement language developed by Ohad Naharin, it seems hard to believe that I once lived without it.  Gaga is profoundly influencing my artistry, widening my range of movement and fostering a greater confidence in my ability to improvise.  It is also now a major focus of my research and writing.

I wrote “Going Gaga” in November 2007 for my first blog and edited it for Dance In Israel.  To see a listing of Gaga classes, please check Dance In Israel’s Events page.  I’ll leave you to your reading – right now I’m off to Ohad’s monthly class!

* * *

After making my initial rounds of the Tel Aviv studios to sample modern and contemporary dance classes, I decided it was time to immerse myself in the training method that is most unique to Israel: Gaga (גאגא).  Gaga was developed by the Batsheva Dance Company’s artistic director, Ohad Naharin, and it evolved not only through his work with professional dancers but through experimentation with non-dancers; indeed, when a non-dancing employee of Batsheva expressed a desire to dance in the late 1990s, Naharin began biweekly classes for her and several other employees. The Batsheva company now trains daily in Gaga, and since 2001, members of the general public have been able to practice Gaga in open classes.

Gaga Dance Classes: The Logistics

Currently, there are hour-long classes six days a week at the Suzanne Dellal Center taught by dancers who have worked with Naharin; on some days, there are two or three classes.  Most people who attend these classes are not aspiring dancers with previous training.  Instead, they are members of the general public who found out about Gaga through word-of-mouth.

People interested in practicing Gaga must commit to an introductory month. For a very reasonable fee – 220 shekels (roughly $60, depending on the exchange rate) – beginners can take as many classes as they would like, and they also gain free admission into the special monthly class offered by Ohad Naharin himself.  This month-long trial period allows novices like me to absorb the philosophy of Gaga, receiving information from the rotating roster of teachers and observing the changes in our bodies and movement over time.  After the first month, practitioners can decide to take one class per week (220 shekels for a month) or unlimited classes (330 shekels for a month).

What is Gaga?

Now you have some background, but what exactly is Gaga?   At my first class, I was given a double-sided paper with more detailed information.  Here is an excerpt from the English translation:

“Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self awareness through your body.  Gaga is a new way for learning and strengthening your body, adding flexibility, stamina and agility while lightening the senses and imagination.  Gaga raises awareness of physical weaknesses, awakens numb areas, exposes physical fixations and offers ways for their elimination.  Gaga elevates instinctive motion, links conscious and subconscious movement.  Gaga is an experience of freedom and pleasure. In a simple way, a pleasant place, comfortable close, accompanied by music, every person with himself and others.” (Ohad Naharin, Gaga introduction sheet) Continue Reading

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