It's hard to find a dancer who isn't fascinated by Ohad Naharin. The choreographer and director of the Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company is best known for his distinctive movement language, Gaga, which emphasizes a deep sensory awareness and finding pleasure and freedom in moving. Though his work is contemporary, it's joined the repertoires of several ballet companies, including Atlanta Ballet and Paris Opéra Ballet.

Batsheva in Naharin's Last Work, photo by Gadi Dagon

Now, thanks to Tomer Heymann's documentary Mr. Gaga, Gagaphiles will get an intimate and rare look into Naharin's life and work. The film, which Heymann worked on for eight years, will be released in the U.S. on February 1.

Ohad Naharin, photo by Gadi Dagon

Along with striking performance footage of Naharin's work, Mr. Gaga provides glimpses of his process in the studio, and the demanding dynamic between him and his dancers. In the opening scene, for instance, one Batsheva dancer practices a fall, again and again, as Naharin asks her to let go of control.

The film also paints a fuller picture of Naharin's life, both personal and professional: There's footage of him as a child growing up on a kibbutz in Israel, performing for Israeli troops and dancing with Batsheva after beginning his formal dance training at age 22. The documentary also touches on his time spent dancing with Martha Graham in New York City, and attending The Juilliard School and the School of American Ballet.

In addition to the film's release, U.S. audiences have another chance to see Batsheva, and Naharin's choreography, in action. The company is currently in the middle of a North American tour. They'll perform Naharin's Last Work in New York City this week, from February 1–4, and go on to Costa Mesa, Seattle and San Francisco later this month.

Check the Mr. Gaga showing dates and locations to find a screening near you, and check out the trailer below:

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

"Ballet dancers have a singular approach to a step. 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."

 

In Pointe's August/September "On The Side" column, Ballet San Jose dancer Jeremy Kovitch, talks about how Gaga, a movement style created by Batsheva's Ohad Naharin, transformed the way he approaches movement and helped him tackle technical problems. If you were intrigued, you now have a rare opportunity to learn the technique from the creator himself. Batsheva is coming to the Joyce Theater in New York City next week, and during their time here, Naharin is offering Gaga master classes at Peridance. 

 

Tuesday, September 28 at 11:30

Thursday September 30 at 11:30

Friday, October 1 at 2:30

 

Single classes are $20 for Peridance students and $25 for non-Peridance students.

Attention DC dancers: The Joy of Motion Dance Center is offering a free Gaga technique master class this upcoming Sunday, February 12. Batsheva dancer Tom Weinberger will teach the class from 5:30 to 6:45, then host a short question and answer session. Any intermediate or advanced–level dancer is invited to attend—for free!

 

If you haven't tried Gaga yet, you're missing out. Yes, even if you're a classical ballet dancer. The technique, created by Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin helps you discover your body in an entirely new way. Instead of asking you to mimic positions, the work provides imagery and visual cues to initiate movement, improving your instincts, allowing for freedom and new ways to experience pleasure in your dancing.

 

The class will take place at Joy of Motion Dance Center Friendship Heights, 5207 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20015

 (202) 362 - 3042

 

Click here to register.

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