Tag Archive | "Ohad Naharin"

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Announcing the Gaga Intensive 2010

Posted on 01 April 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Gaga Intensive. Photo by Gadi Dagon

Many of you have inquired about the 2010 Gaga Intensive, a two-week summer course offered by Ohad Naharin along with dancers from Batsheva Dance Company.  So, as the registration coordinator for the workshop, I’m pleased to offer you the scoop: this year’s intensive will be held from July 11-23 in Tel Aviv at the Batsheva studios in the Suzanne Dellal Center.  The Gaga Intensive is geared towards dancers and dance students age 18+.  Classes in Gaga, Naharin’s repertory, and Gaga methodics will run Sundays through Thursdays from 10:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the afternoon, and there will also be classes on Friday mornings. The course will cost 2000 NIS, or roughly $500.

If you have questions, please do not contact me through Dance In Israel but instead e-mail me at: [email protected]

You can register at: www.gagapeople.com

Hope to see you in Tel Aviv this summer!

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Batsheva Ensemble in Ohad Naharin’s “Kyr/Z/na”

Posted on 15 March 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: Trailer for Kyr/Z/na

It’s been a particularly fascinating season at Batsheva.  As the company marks the 20th anniversary of Ohad Naharin’s arrival as artistic director, it has placed a wealth of choreographic treasures onstage for review at the Suzanne Dellal Center: Hora (2009), Project 5 (2008), Three (2005), Mamootot (2003), and Kamuyot (2003).

This programming has promoted what Naharin has discussed in several press conferences: an opportunity for the choreographer, dancers, and audience members alike to revisit the choreography.  Project 5, itself a compilation of excerpts stretching from 1985’s Black Milk to 2008’s B/olero and originally danced by five women, was newly presented in 2010 with an all-male cast.  Three has stayed in Batsheva’s active repertory, but the recent performances were the first ones at Suzanne Dellal in a few seasons. And Mamootot and Kamuyot, which are performed in the studio with viewers on all four sides, always offer repeat audiences a new perspective simply through the choice of seating.

Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Z/na.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Now, together with the Batsheva Ensemble, the Batsheva Dance Company’s junior troupe, Naharin is revisiting two of his earlier works: Kyr (1990) and Z/na (1995).  The result – Kyr/Z/na 2010, which combines excerpts from both works in one powerful program – continues through March 17 at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.

My preview of Kyr/Z/na 2010 was first published in the Jerusalem Post as “Moving Legends.”

* * *

Moving Legends

Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Z/na.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Reflecting on his recent restaging of excerpts from Kyr (1990) and Z/na (1995) for the Batsheva Ensemble, Ohad Naharin remarks, “At first, when I returned to the material, I felt that I was waking a dinosaur.”

The two works have certainly loomed large in the history of the Batsheva Dance Company and in the memories of Israeli dance audiences.  Commissioned by the Israel Festival, Kyr was the first dance that Naharin created after assuming the artistic directorship of Batsheva in 1990, and it featured a musical collaboration between Naharin himself and the band Tractor’s Revenge.  Even after two decades worth of adventurous new works, a section of Kyr set to a relentlessly driving rock version of the Passover song “Echad Mi Yodea” has remained Naharin’s best-known choreography.  Meanwhile, Z/na, which opened the Israel Festival in 1995, also left a strong impact with striking images, memorable props, and an original score composed by popular music icon Ivri Lider.

Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Z/na.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Touching these two substantial, legendary works after so many years was, at first, daunting.  “In the early stages of the process, I lost confidence about the decision to work again,” Naharin recalls.  “But from the encounter with the dancers and the process in the studio, the interest returned.”  Ultimately, Naharin asserts, “The age of a work, or when it was created – this is not really meaningful.  It’s information like any other information, but the encounter with the material happens here and now and is connected to where we are today.”

Indeed, the upcoming performances of Kyr/Z/na 2010 at the Suzanne Dellal Center promise all the freshness and excitement of a hotly anticipated world premiere.  For one thing, Naharin has revamped some the selected excerpts from Kyr and Z/na, and he is now deploying an even more developed artistry to bring out the nuances in the choreography.  “There’s something zealous in this work.  It was created from a place of less restraint, from this raging pressure cooker.  The steam that comes out of this pot is measured,” explains Naharin about the shift in energy from the original and the current version.  “The image I have [now] is of a very strong motor that works at 30%.  Today this creation is in a different place. It is connected to insights from 20 years of work.”

While audiences can look forward to these more finely calibrated dynamics and to other changes, they can also expect that Kyr/Z/na 2010 will deliver what the original works offered: unforgettable visual images paired with particularly powerful sound scores.  From the astronaut who postures and lip-synchs to a recording of Naharin’s resonant voice to the man slowly crossing the stage as he gratingly grinds an oversize wooden noisemaker, the work is full of compelling moments that sear themselves on the viewer’s brain.

Ohad Naharin’s Kyr/Z/na.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

The vitality of this new staging is further enhanced by the creative chemistry between Naharin and Kyr/Z/na 2010’s talented young performers, who range in age from their late teens to their early twenties.  Noting that he typically works more with the main company and that the junior Batsheva Ensemble members are with the group for only a couple years, Naharin says that this meeting with the dancers was unique.  He elaborates, “I learn a lot from them.  This is a very special group, and I feel that they are upgrading me.”

The magic from the studio pours onto the stage as the Batsheva Ensemble enlivens Naharin’s choreography.  When individual dancers burst into fast-paced action amidst a sea of slow motion, each one masterfully commands attention.  And as a line of women tears upstage to a hard-hitting rap song, unleashing a torrent of full-bodied movement before staring down the audience, their commitment to the work and their passion for dance is palpable.  As performed by the Ensemble, Kyr and Z/na are no fossilized dinosaurs.  They’re living, breathtaking creations that pulse with new blood and a two-decade rich infusion of artistic insights.

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Invitation to a Lecture at Emory University on American and Israeli Dance

Posted on 20 February 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performing Ohad Naharin’s Decadance

If you’re in Atlanta, Georgia – or if you know someone in Atlanta – here’s a heads up:

I’m happy to announce that I am speaking in the Emory Friends of Dance Lecture Series on Wednesday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).  My talk, Foreign Exchange: American and Israeli Dance from Martha Graham to Ohad Naharin, will precede a performance by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet of Ohad Naharin’s Decadance.  I won’t be in Atlanta in person, but I will be speaking via Skype and have an exciting presentation prepared!

Cedar Lake performing Ohad Naharin’s Decadance.  Photo by Paul B. Goode.

Here’s the official blurb about my lecture:

Forty years ago, Israel’s premiere dance company imported works by top American choreographers.  Now cutting-edge American troupes like Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet are drawing crowds with choreography by Israeli artists.  In this lecture, dance scholar Deborah Friedes Galili explores the dynamic relationship between American and Israeli dance and traces the meteoric rise of Israeli contemporary dance.  This lecture will be presented live from Israel via webcam prior to the performance by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.

Cedar Lake performing Ohad Naharin’s Decadance.  Photo by Paul B. Goode.

My lecture is free and open to the public, so if you’re in Atlanta, I hope you will come listen in the Chase Lobby at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, 1700 N. Decatur Road.  I will speak for one half hour, and then there will be a question and answer session.  Please let others know about this event as well!

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Batsheva Dance Company: Ohad Naharin’s “Shalosh” (“Three”)

Posted on 15 February 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Three

Five years after its premiere, Ohad Naharin’s Shalosh (Three) still lures audiences to the Suzanne Dellal Center – and judging by the enthusiastic curtain calls last Saturday night, the work continues to captivate crowds.  My preview of this run of Three was originally published in the Jerusalem Post as “Lucky Number ‘Three.'”

* * *

Three by Ohad Naharin.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Addressing a small crowd in the Batsheva Dance Company’s studios during an open rehearsal of Three, artistic director and choreographer Ohad Naharin mused that we frequently revisit books, movies, and music. So why not revisit a dance?

Naharin proposes that Tel Aviv audiences do just that when Three, an evening-length work which premiered in February 2005, returns to the Suzanne Dellal Center this weekend.

Guy Shomroni and Sharon Eyal in Three by Ohad Naharin.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

“The showing of Three in Tel Aviv offers the viewer a renewed meeting with the work, which exists inside a constant process of development since its creation,” Naharin explained in a press release. “This process, in which the work is growing and being refined all the time, is just as meaningful in the company’s work as the process of creation before a premiere.”

At the rehearsal, Naharin elaborated why both of these processes are so vital.  “Since the premiere, the creation went through a lot of changes.  I like to think of the premiere as a birth, since it’s clear to everyone that birth is just one moment, and that afterwards many other things happen,” he reflected.  “There is no doubt that the work changed, improved, among other things because of the meeting with the dancers, who are very creative and musical themselves.  This is one of the reasons that I recommend for people to see the creation twice, at the beginning and after a year or two once it has gone through this process of ripening.”

Three by Ohad Naharin.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

In the case of Three, the work has enjoyed five years of ripening while remaining in Batsheva’s active repertory.  Consequently, original cast members who have stayed with the company as well as newer additions to the troupe have had ample opportunity to develop their interpretation of the dance, calibrating their embodiment of the choreography with previously elusive nuances and subtleties.

Nowhere is this maturation more important and beneficial than in a work such as Three, which in the absence of complex stagecraft and elaborate visual design reveals the movement and the dancers’ performance of it as the main subject.  Lit plainly but effectively by Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi) and clothed in Rakefet Levy’s basic, solid-colored tops and closely fitting cropped pants, the dancers approach Three’s sophisticated, multi-layered movement with a confident straightforwardness.

Three by Ohad Naharin.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

As the title suggests, Three contains three discrete sections, and Naharin’s compositional and musical choices provide each part with a distinctive feel.  In “Bellus,” set to Glenn Gould’s celebrated recording of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, a simple purity reflective of the music pervades both the dancers’ finely wrought solos and the more pared down, precise group work.  Brian Eno’s spare, evocative Neroli provides the soundscape for “Humus,” which features a flock of the company’s women methodically repositioning their bodies and shifting their spatial formation in an entrancing unison.

“Secus,” the final section, boasts a musical collage that stretches from the offbeat electronic stylings of AGF to the alluring Indian melodies of Kaho Naa Pyar Hai to the resonant harmonies of the Beach Boys.  This adventurously eclectic mix serves as a fitting backdrop for the audaciously quirky choreography.  From total stillness, the dancers burst into flurries of activity, creating a sense of organized chaos both in the space and within their bodies.  Their novel movement often defies description, but it constantly commands attention and inspires awe.

Three by Ohad Naharin.  Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Three’s extraordinarily rich physical texture can be attributed at least partly to the evolution of Naharin’s movement language, Gaga, in the early 2000s.  Naharin noted that just a few years prior to Three’s premiere, “Gaga became the heart of the daily practice of the company,” and he added, “this common language [Gaga] held the keys to the process” of making Three.  Indeed, the marvelous movement invention and robust embodiment which characterize Three are closely linked to the practice of Gaga, which expands the dancers’ ability to research movement possibilities and awakens their sensitivity to physical sensations.  Five years later, Batsheva’s dancers bring a deepened understanding of Gaga to their performance of this work.  And that’s reason enough to revisit Three for a second or even a third time.

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Batsheva Dance Company: Ohad Naharin’s “Project 5”

Posted on 19 January 2010 by Deborah Friedes Galili


Video: Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Project 5

Given the chance, I usually prefer to see a dance twice.  I can anticipate the choreography and more strategically direct my gaze, and I detetct nuances that I missed the first time around.

I first saw Batsheva Dance Company in Ohad Naharin’s Project 5 when it premiered in 2008, and by the time I had my second viewing last week, there had been a significant change: the gender of the dancers.  Originally created for five female dancers, Project 5 is now being performed not only by women but also by men.

I had wondered if I would sense differences between the male version and the female version of Project 5.  Without watching the versions back-to-back, it was challenging to make a fair comparison.  Instead, as I watched the men, I found myself thoroughly absorbed in noticing the subtle idiosyncrasies among individuals both within this particular quintet and across the two casts I had seen. Project 5‘s assortment of small groupings and repeated compositional motifs provide ample opportunity to observe each dancer in all his (or her) glory and discover each performer’s winning quirks.

Those of you in Israel can catch both female and male casts in Project 5 at the Suzanne Dellal Center from January 28-30.  For those of you who aren’t in the country, you can get your Batsheva fix online by browsing their fantastic new website (link below; English version to come shortly!).

My preview of Project 5 was originally published as “Changing Places” in the Jerusalem Post.

* * *

Changing Places

Two dancers rhythmically swing their forearms side to side as Isao Tomita’s synthesizer transforms the stirring melody of Ravel’s Bolero.  Positioned squarely behind microphones, three dancers intersperse their stern monotone chanting with more dynamically accented gestures.  Five dancers add movement after movement to a gradually accumulating phrase, striking their abdomens with a resounding slap each time a woman’s voice matter-of-factly intones one particular line from Charles Bukowski’s “Making It.”  And finally, costumed in flowing white fabric, five dancers shoot through the space in soaring jumps and ritualistically smear mud across their faces and chests.

Are these dancers men or women?  The answer depends on which performance of Ohad Naharin’s Project 5 you attend.

Ohad Naharin’s Project 5. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Naharin first presented Project 5 in 2008 to showcase five female dancers who had recently been promoted to the Batsheva Dance Company from the junior Batsheva Ensemble.  Besides displaying the formidable talents of these up-and-coming dancers, Project 5 unearthed several gems from the rich landscape of Naharin’s repertory.  The engrossing trio “Park” hails from Moshe (1999), the finely crafted quintet set to Bukowski’s instructive text and Arvo Pärt’s “Für Alina” is from George and Zalman (2006), and Black Milk, the supremely athletic closing section for five dancers, was first performed in 1985.  “B/olero,” the duet with its hypnotizing loops of movement, was the only section created in 2008 for members of the original Project 5 cast.

Ohad Naharin’s Project 5. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

In its early performances, the chance to see five of Batsheva’s freshest female dancers featured in this intimate chamber setting was reason enough to go to the theater.  But now Naharin is upping the ante, offering a rare opportunity to see the exact same choreography in both a female version and a male version.  During the production’s latest run at the Suzanne Dellal Center, two all-male and two all-female casts are performing Project 5.

Ohad Naharin’s Project 5. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

While reversing the casting of men and women in a classical ballet would be unthinkable because of the genre’s gender norms, switching the genders in Naharin’s choreography is an intriguing novelty that fits comfortably into the realm of possibility.  Indeed, regarding the materials with which his dancers work during the creative process, Naharin explains, “it is possible to talk, among other things, about musicality, accuracy, groove, passion, the ability to sublimate personal madness as an aid for creation, connection to sexuality and more, and all these things are not connected to gender and are not the property of men or of women.”

“The difference,” Naharin notes, “lies in the different point of reference of the viewer – in social conventions, our habits, and the awareness that a man does a woman’s role.”

Ohad Naharin’s Project 5. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Naharin’s assertion is supported by veteran Batsheva dancer Guy Shomroni’s experience in working on Project 5.  Asked if it felt significantly different to step into roles originated by women, Shomroni replied, “Frankly, not really, because the starting point for us as dancers in this company is usually coming from a more physical way.”  Rather than taking on specifically gender-coded movement or characters, Shomroni and his fellow male dancers were charged with the same basic physical tasks that their female predecessors faced.

Ohad Naharin’s Project 5. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

Yet there was a high level of excitement for the new male cast when it came to learning Project 5.  Shomroni reflects that besides Black Milk, which has frequently been performed by a male quintet, “None of the material was ever offered for men to do . . . to touch this product after it’s already been through a process and a maturing on stage, it’s a nice experience.”

Ohad Naharin’s Project 5. Photo by Gadi Dagon.

As for the audience’s perspective, Shomroni muses that the differences among dancers of the same gender may be as fascinating as the contrasts between the male and female casts. In a company full of strikingly individual dancers, each of whom is uniquely compelling, this may well be the case. Yet returning to the issue of gender, Shomroni adds thoughtfully, “there is a difference in the body shape and the body curves in the way the body is built, so maybe there is going to be some type of change. Tell me if you find some.”

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