I had the pleasure of taking a Gaga class from Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company, last Friday morning at DANY Studios. Gaga is a technique Naharin has developed over the years to train the dancers in his company to perform his specific style of movement, and—more recently—a creative exercise class he has begun offering to non-dancers. The class I took, part of The Joyce’s Master Class series, was specifically for dancers but I could see how individuals of varying abilities and dance experiences could benefit from the exercises.
Naharin led us through a guided improvisation, asking us to “decorate our insides” and to “find space” in many areas of the body. We “grabbed and let go” at the same time. We shook and wiggled; We even got “groovy.” This direction from Naharin helped to provoke movement that had a fluid, organic quality that actually made quicker, smaller movements look and feel easier, not to mention more enjoyable to do. We individually explored small and large articulations of everything from the pelvis, to our fingers and our necks, as Naharin spoke and moved himself.
Naharin’s guided improvisations begun standing, then moved to the floor, and then moved around the space. After about an hour and 20 minutes, rehearsal director Danielle Agami took the reins and taught a few sections from the work the company was performing at The Joyce, Project 5. Agami was gentle and specific, as she coaxed from the class the strange and cool attitude of the three women at the mics (if you’ve seen the show). Asking us to feel as if we have just landed from another planet, she requested we “get weirder.”
It was clear to me after seeing the company perform and taking this class, that the Batsheva dancers use this exploration of “weird” to cross over to “cool.” I’m not sure I crossed the threshold this time, but I certainly left with an appreciation for this particular means of doing so.
Check out les ballets C de la B’s class on October 22, the next in the series of master classes. Company member Ross McCormack leads the class, which will include dance phrases from Alain Platel’s Out of Context, being presented at The Joyce, and improvisation based on the learned material.
Please contact Maggie Lockhart at email@example.com to register for the master class with les ballets C de la B or if you have any questions.
-Laura Diffenderfer, Programming Associate