Tag Archive | "Dance Training"

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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!

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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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Surveying Dance Technique in Israel: A Report from the Studios

Posted on 22 November 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

(A studio at Adama in Mizpe Ramon)

Right now I am spending my time in Hebrew ulpan rather than the dance studio, but last year I happily spent my first few months traipsing from studio to studio.  I was fortunate enough to return regularly to several teachers while funded by my Fulbright grant, including some of those mentioned in “Surveying Dance Training in Israel: A Report from the Studios.”  Over the course of the year, my impressions of technique styles and influences developed not only through my continued attendance but through conversations with my teachers.  You will get to hear from some of these artists themselves in my podcasts and in write-ups of interviews, but for now, you can read my first impressions as a newcomer to Israeli studios.

I first wrote this post on November 6, 2007 for my own blog.

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Besides attending concerts and meeting dance scholars, I am busy investigating technique classes in Tel Aviv.  I am attempting to do my initial survey in a relatively methodical manner, working my way slowly from studio to studio and taking classes labeled modern (מודרני – “moderni”), contemporary (עכשווי – “achshavi”), or release (רליס – “release”) before plunging into the world of Gaga, a technique developed by Ohad Naharin, or indulging myself with a ballet class.

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Dancing in Another Language

Posted on 14 November 2008 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Studio at Adama in Mizpe Ramon, Israel

At my first Hebrew lesson last year, I approached my tutor with this request: please teach me the names of body parts.  I realized that this vocabulary was essential if I wanted to conduct physical research in dance classes and workshops.  Yes, teachers were happy to translate their instructions into English for me, but I also wanted to understand their Hebrew instructions and their comments to Israeli students.  Just as the body is central to my research, it was the logical starting place for my study of the Hebrew language.

By the end of the year, I had mastered the names of numerous body parts and of many verbs commonly used in dance classes.  My teachers no longer needed to translate quite as much for me, and I felt I was more fully grasping their instructions by operating in their native tongue.  Now I’m continuing my quest to dance in another language by studying Hebrew in an ulpan, an intensive 5-month long language program.

I wrote the post below for my website on October 19, 2007.  Though I still have a long way to go with my Hebrew skills, it is fun for me to read this and recognize my progress!

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