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Dancing in Israel: Summer Workshops

Posted on 24 April 2011 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Sheetal Gandhi’s students at Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues 2009. Photo by Tully Chen.

When I first came to Israel to research dance in 2007, I occasionally crossed paths in open classes with other dancers from abroad.  While local studios have always welcomed dancers from around the world, increasingly, short-term seasonal workshops are geared towards an international population of students.  Thinking about expanding your horizons by training in Israel?  Here are a few programs to keep on your radar.


Video: KCDC’s International Summer Program

The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (KCDC) has launched an international summer dance program for dancers age 15-20. Taught by directors and dancers of both the main company and its junior ensemble as well as guest teachers, this program’s offerings include ballet and modern technique, strengthening sessions, and classes in the repertory of KCDC’s artistic director Rami Be’er. Participants live in guest houses on Kibbutz Ga’aton, home to the company and the Galilee Dance Village, and besides enjoying their stay on the kibbutz, the dancers enrich their experience abroad with weekend trips to other locations in Israel.

KCDC’s 2011 program is scheduled for July 7-21, and more information can be found on the company’s website.


Dancers at the Gaga Intensive Summer Course. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Since its inception in 2008, the Gaga Intensive has grown in size and popularity. Taught by Ohad Naharin and members of the Batsheva Dance Company, the two-week workshop includes Gaga/dancers classes, repertory classes focusing on Naharin’s choreography, and methodics classes, sessions which enable dancers to more deeply research key concepts. The course is open to professional dancers and dance students age 18 and up, and classes are held at Batsheva’s studios at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv.

The 2011 Gaga Intensive Summer Course is already full, but you can stay tuned to the Gaga website for updates about future workshops.


Video: Bridge Choreographic Dialogues 2009

Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues began as a program linking dance artists in Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, but it has grown into a broader endeavor with an increasingly diverse international faculty and student body.  Held at the Suzanne Dellal Centre under the artistic direction of Barak Marshall, the two-week program is open to dancers age 20 and up who have at least three years of professional experience.  While the exact offerings depend on the program’s faculty, Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues usually features classes in ballet, modern dance, and contemporary repertory as well as choreographic workshops.

The 2011 Bridge: Choreographic Dialogues will be held from July 31-August 12.  More information can be found on Suzanne Dellal’s website and the workshop’s website.  

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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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