Tag Archive | "MAX"

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Batsheva Dance Company: From Graham to Gaga

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Ohad Naharin's "Hora"
Rachael Osborne and Iyar Elezra in Ohad Naharin’s Hora. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

I first wrote the article below for the Forward last winter, when the Batsheva Dance Company toured North America in three large-scale productions.  Now, right before New York audiences catch Ohad Naharin’s duet B/olero in City Center’s popular Fall for Dance festival, I decided it was time to revisit this piece.

Fall for Dance features an array of internationally-renowned companies, and while Batsheva has boasted a world-class reputation since its inception, its style and structure have changed dramatically over the last few decades.  This article, originally titled “Going Gaga for Batsheva in America,” traces Batsheva’s transition from a strongly American-influenced company to the more distinctive troupe which has captivated contemporary audiences.

Going Gaga for Batsheva in America

Since its first tour of the United States in 1970, Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company has won over American crowds and critics alike with its energetic approach to dance.  At the time, it was, perhaps, a novelty: an Israeli group performing primarily American repertory with unbridled verve and vigor.  But in the past 18 years, the company has become a phenomenon of a different sort.  The Batsheva Dance Company, which is currently crisscrossing North America, is widely recognized as one of the world’s top dance ensembles, featuring audacious choreography with inventive movement.

Founded in 1964 with the financial backing of Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, Batsheva began as a repertory company in the American mold.  Martha Graham, a founding mother of American modern dance and a beneficiary of de Rothschild’s patronage, served as artistic adviser.  The Israeli dancers trained intensively in Graham’s technique and channeled both their physical power and their emotional passion into some of the choreographer’s most acclaimed works. With many of Graham’s disciples contributing to Batsheva’s repertory, the Tel Aviv-based company was part of American modern dance’s family; New York Times critic Clive Barnes even called Batsheva’s members “the Israeli children of American dance” upon seeing the company’s American debut.

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Gaga for Dancers: From the Gaga Intensive to New Open Classes

Posted on 27 August 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Gaga Intensive

Dancers at the Gaga Intensive 2009.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

I’ve been studying Gaga for the better part of two years, but the vast majority of the classes I have taken fall under the rubric of “Gaga People,” Gaga classes which are open for participants regardless of any previous dance experience.  There’s something magical about these classes.  It’s not often that you walk into a dance studio full of people ranging in age from their early 20s to their 70s, some of whom have performed professionally and some of whom simply love to move but have never taken a dance class before.

Yet there was also something special about taking Gaga classes with 120 other dancers during the Gaga Intensive this summer.  “Gaga Dancers” classes challenged me to more thoroughly explore the underlying concepts of Ohad Naharin’s movement language and enabled me to research these ideas while connecting more consciously to my body’s knowledge of ballet and modern dance forms.  I wasn’t just working from my lena; I was working my arabesque from my lena.  I was floating while doing changements, exploring biba while doing developés, and sensing my luna while doing pliés and relevés.

I’m happy to announce that starting on September 8th, Gaga classes designed specifically for dancers will be opened to the public in Tel Aviv.  Like the “Gaga People” classes, these will take place at the Suzanne Dellal Center.  If you have previous dance training, you can get your groove on at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  And I’m also happy to announce that starting soon, I’ll be the one working the door!  For more details, please see the Events calendar.

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Before open “Gaga Dancers” classes start, I wanted to share another glimpse of last month’s Gaga Intensive.  I first wrote the article below, “Learning to Speak Gaga,” for the Jerusalem Post. To read what other dancers thought about their Gaga experience, check out my previous post, “Reflections on the Gaga Intensive 2009.”

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Learning to Speak Gaga

Amidst the waves of tourists arriving in Israel this summer was one particularly diverse group, gathering, from around the globe, in Tel Aviv.  They came from the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Denmark, Italy, Greece, Cameroon, Japan and Korea.  Like some other foreign visitors, they were eager to experience an unfamiliar culture and learn a new language. But these weren’t typical tourists and they weren’t planning to study Hebrew.  They are dancers.  And they came to immerse themselves in Gaga.

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A Glimpse into the Gaga Workshop

Posted on 07 April 2009 by deborah friedes

Gaga Intensive. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Nearly every time I have written about Gaga, I have received inquiries from readers about opportunities to study Ohad Naharin’s movement language.   Several people have wondered about attending a Gaga intensive, and now I’m happy to announce that there will indeed be a workshop in Tel Aviv from July 19th-31st, 2009.  Contact [email protected] for more information.

Although I spent most of the summer of 2008 in the U.S., I visited the Gaga workshop for a day and joined participants in their classes.  To get a sense of what might be in store for this year’s Gaga intensive, check out my reflection on last year’s experience, posted below.  My article was originally written for The Winger on July 30, 2008.

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In between packing and tying up various loose ends in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, I swung by the Suzanne Dellal Center to check out Batsheva’s Gaga intensive workshop.  Eldad Mannheim, who manages the Batsheva Ensemble, had told me it was full, but I don’t think I was prepared for what I saw when I walked into Studio Varda on a Wednesday afternoon.   Dancers had come literally from all over the world – the U.S., Mexico, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and no doubt many other countries – to study Gaga.

The participants had already taken a morning Gaga class by the time I arrived, and now they were busily reviewing material from the daily repertory class in small groups.  On the day I attended the workshop, Danielle and Bosmat first led us through a tight gestural section from Ohad Naharin’s MAX.  After seeing this excerpt not only in MAX but in several performances of Seder, I was quite eager to try my hand(s) at this movement (so to speak).

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“MAX” – Connecting to Ohad Naharin’s Choreography

Posted on 20 February 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

(Video: A trailer for BAM’s presentation of Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s MAX)

This is an excerpt from “Two Views of Batsheva: Ohad Naharin’s Furo and MAX,” which was published on The Winger on May 17, 2008.  The Batsheva Dance Company will perform MAX in Santa Barbara (Feb. 24), San Diego (Feb. 26), Los Angeles (Feb. 28 – Mar. 1), and Brooklyn, NY (Mar. 4-7).

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During the brief blackouts in Ohad Naharin’s MAX, I quickly tore my eyes away from the stage to steal glances at my friend Nitzan.  Each time I caught variations of the same expression on his face: eyes wide with amazement and mouth stretched into an even wider grin.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a “dance dork” (a few of my friends and I threw around this term frequently during graduate school). With my penchant for dance history and analysis, I’m probably not the typical audience member.  Give me a brilliantly-crafted piece and I will fall in love, counting the ways in which the choreography captures my attention and my affection.

Love at first sight is possible in the arena of dance, but sometimes even the most excellent work takes a bit of time to win over my heart fully.  Such was the case with Ohad Naharin’s MAX.  I first saw MAX in December, and due to fatigue, I didn’t take in the dance with the freshest eyes.  When I re-read my files before this second viewing, I saw that I had taken only a few hasty notes which focused on extremely satisfying sections marked by fine compositional structure.  But after tonight’s performance of MAX, I’m in love. At least in my eyes, the work as a whole is indeed brilliant.

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Ohad Naharin’s “Deca Dance” in Israel: A Cycle Completed

Posted on 27 January 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

(Video: The Batsheva Dance Company in Deca Dance)

Whenever possible, I try to publish my writings from last year in conjunction with a related event that’s happening now.  As the Batsheva Dance Company embarks on an extensive North American tour and takes Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance on the road, it seems like the right moment to re-post my writing on the work.

I first published this article as “A Cycle Completed: Deca Dance in Israel” on The Winger on July 11, 2008.

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It’s fitting that I saw the Batsheva Ensemble perform the latest version of Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance at the Suzanne Dellal Center last week.  You see, Deca Dance is the piece that drew me here to Israel.  I wrote my Fulbright grant proposal having only seen the Batsheva Dance Company perform an earlier incarnation of this work (albeit 3 times).   I hadn’t seen any of Naharin’s other dances, nor had I seen any other Israeli companies.   Now – 4 years after I last saw Deca Dance, 9 and 1/2 months after landing in Israel, 2 days after finishing the term of my Fulbright grant, and 90-some dance concerts later – I feel I have come to the end of a cycle.

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