On The Side: Jeremy Kovitch

Improvisation helps the Ballet San Jose soloist think outside the box.
Published in the August/September 2010 issue.

Photo by Bob Shomler

As a student at The Harid Conservatory, Jeremy Kovitch liked his modern classes well enough. But what really grabbed the teenage dancer were online videos of work by Ohad Naharin, director of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company. “He revolutionized modern dance,” Kovitch says.

 

Now a dancer with Ballet San Jose, Kovitch was able to try out Naharin’s style a couple of years ago. “During our summer break, a friend invited me to perform with his company, Zhukov Dance Theatre,” Kovitch remembers. “There was a Batsheva dancer in the group, and our warm-up was rooted in Gaga”—Naharin’s imagery-based technique, which involves a lot of improvisation and eschews mirrors, focusing on how a movement feels rather than looks. “Ballet dancers have a singular approach to a step,” Kovitch says. “But in Gaga, you figure out that there’s more than one way to lift your arm—and then you do that with every part of your body.”

 

Gaga transformed Kovitch’s work at Ballet San Jose. “Now I apply an emotion to each movement,” he says. “If I’m looking to the left, I think about why I’m looking.” And he’s also found Gaga-based imagery to be a powerful corrective tool. “If a certain jump isn’t working, re-imagining and rethinking it will often fix the problem.”