Batsheva Dance Company

Batsheva Dance Company
Batsheva Dance Company

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blog Post 4

I care about Naharin, his choreography and his ideas because I feel like not only is he a forerunner in the modern dance scene but he brings something unique to the saturated modern dance world. His Jewish and Israeli culture, the back injury that changed his life and evolved into Gaga Technique, his desire for intelligent and emotionally connected dancers, and above all, the passion that he feels for dance. This is what gives his work meaning for me; that it is so obvious from his interviews that he is in love with dance. Then, his intellectuality and culture easily falls into choreography but it is passion that is the deriving force underneath his success. His work has inspired me not only in dance but opened up my eyes to the different types and kinds of abstract and popular music that can be incorporated into a dance.

I was reminded of a Bill T. Jones quote in the recent reading we had, where Jones mentioned the "Ectasy of performing" - the passion the drives Naharin is evident in other successful choreographers. The legacy that Naharin leaves behind is one of new movement quality, passion, and the motivation for choreographers to start looking for "smart" dancers. Naharin is an indvidual in the sense he doesn't look to politics or world events for inspiration, but I also think this somehow connects him back to modern pioneers like Isadora Duncan. The origin of their creativity comes from an intrinsnic sense of artistry. I also admire that Naharin's down-to-earthness is relatable not only emotionally but physically, (see :47, 1:45 below)
Naharin wants to share his passion with other people, elderly, children, dancers, non-dancers and this very "human" and relatable quality of his is what I believe should  and will get passed into other generations.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Third Post : Bigger Picture

 I was surprised to find out Naharin does wish to share his political, industrial or technological views in his choreography. An Israeli native, Naharin could have much to say about the two-state situation happening in Israel currently, or the discrimination and prejudice Jews face. However, in an interview via youtube seen here , Naharin not only seems rather bored with the political topic but actually doesn't seem to want to give his opinion. In an interview with an Australian newspaper, Naharin admitted that he just isn't passionate enough about politics to put it into his art.  "All art comes from passion...For me, it would be very boring to create a piece directly commenting on political situations. But I'm happy to talk about it. People in Israel know my views." The sentiment of Naharin's passion and love for dance and not to make controversial statements has been repeated throughout several interviews. Naharin understands the line between choreographing as a public statement and choreographing for the sheer passion of dance. "There’s no such thing as an ‘Israeli’ movement,” Naharin said in The Jewish Daily, “There is a fine line between nationalistic feelings and pride. Pride can be a very dangerous thing. I care about loving to dance, not being proud to dance.”

Personally, I thought it was refreshing in a world where many choreographers are full of themselves when I found an interview with Naharin being not only humble but also comical about his personal political views, "I don't think the Israeli Government would want me to be seen as any kind of spokesman."

So, what are Naharin's works about if he is not trying to make any outspoken statements?

Besides a continual reconstruction of his choreography over time, many of Naharin's works with Batsheva include Gaga Technique's themes of passion, emotion, imagery, and physicality. While Naharin may not want to make any religious statements with his work, "Minus 16" involved a traditional Hebrew song from Passover. "Minus 16" also touched on Hebrew tradition and the history of Judaism in regards to ritual and communities. However, when "Minus 16" was set on Alvin Ailey members in New York, Alvin Ailey dancer Alicia Graf Mack said that Ohad purposely did not translate the Hebrew or give a sense of story when they set the work. “They [Ohad] emphasized the strength of the movement and the power of dancing as a group," said Mack. "But for me, the piece is about struggle, and coming out of a struggle stronger and smarter. Knowing the history and mission of Ailey, it feels especially relevant.” This is a clear example of the success of Naharin's goals: To make the passion of dance accessible to everyone. Although Naharin created "Minus 16" with the history of Judaism in mind, Mack was able to apply the passion and intensity she felt for the piece to her own life. 

How did Naharin develop his views on choreography then?

Recruited into dance by Martha Graham, Naharin seems to adopted some of her philosophies regarding dance, most notably Graham's quote, "Movement never lies." Gaga Technique's connectivity between mind and body seem to represent this quote well. Like Graham who developed a techinique that was unfamiliar to dance audiences, Naharin developed the Gaga Technique, which I think has the strength to become as notable as the Graham Technique. Naharin has the creativity and originality to make the Gaga Technique a codified dance form. Here is a video of Naharin explaining some of the terms his uses in Gaga (and is really interesting!!) : . Lastly, like Graham who was one of the first modern choreographers to start experimenting with other artists for collaborations musically, Naharin is famously known for incorporating many mixes of composers into his choreography. Naharin jumps from the Beach Boys to traditional Hebrew verses.

Below is a clip from "Minus 16" - the second half of the video (once you hear the audience laughing) is the portion where (in this case- NDT) company members bring some of the audience on stage to "dance" with them. Another example of Naharin's desire to spread the love and passion for dance to everyone!

Work Cited
Kussell, Stacey Menchel . "'Minus 16' is a Plus for Ailey." The Jewish Daily. FORWARD, 2011. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <>.

Herschthal, Eric. "The Choreography That Binds." Teh JEwish Week. The Jewish Week Inc., 2011. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <>.

Verghis, Sharon. "The Hot Seat: Ohad Naharin, choreographer ." The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media, 25 Nov 2006. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <>.

 "The Modern Dancers: Martha Graham." Pitt. edu. . N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar 2012. <>

Monday, March 12, 2012


I told myself I wouldn't just upload a bunch of videos but this one gave me shivers and by obligation I was forced to put this up. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

'Minus 16'

This is a shout out to our very own Brenna Marlin who wanted to know a bit more about Ohad’s work “Minus 16.” What better way to explain the movement but in a YouTube clip so you can see it yourself.  Words can only say so much. I was actually going to put it up a bit later, because like you said it breaks up the text nicely, but now is as good a time as ever. Especially when we have requests for it! Here is a bit more background on the piece itself.  Its world premiere was on the Nederlands Dans Theater II in 1999 (before his wife’s passing).  It has since been performed by many other companies as well, but it was with the Ailey’s premiere of it that it became something more; something special.  He wanted all of their performances to be dedicated to her. This time the work itself is actually composed of excerpts from 4 other of his previous works: Mabul, Anaphaza, Zachacha, and Echad Ma Yodea. There is a duet (which is a section in the video clip) that Ohad made sure was in this setting of Minus 16.  It had been in a couple others including the first setting on the Nederland Dans Theater II.  He wanted it specifically in this reconstruction because, Ohad said, “It seems right, especially because we’re doing it for Mari (Herschthal).” If you watch the video clip and see the duet I think you will see why he said that. *note: we also put our citations at the bottom of each post feel free to check them out!*

Kussell, Stacey. "'Minus 16' Is Plus for Ailey." The Jewish Daily Forward. Forward Association, Inc., 13/12/2011. Web. 8 Mar 2012.

Herschthal, Eric. "The Choreography That Binds." Teh JEwish Week. The Jewish Week Inc., 06/12/2011. Web. 8 Mar 2012.


Saturday, March 3, 2012


Here is a clip of MAX. A work created by Naharin and also composed under the alias Maxim Waratt.  It is interesting to see how the music and movement support eachother. Very cool check it out!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Professional Lineage-influences

Ohad may have started late in the game at age 22 but the teachers who taught him the people he has worked with and continues to work with is very rich.  His first dance experience was with the Batsheva Dance Company where guest artist Martha Graham saw him there and asked him to come back to New York with her to perform her work “Jacob’s Dream.” While he was working with Martha he also studied at Julliard and the School of American Ballet.  Two noteworthy teachers were Maggie Black and David Howard who helped him refine his technique. Black was a ballet teacher who had an anatomical approach to the technique, as did Howard whose approach reduced tension and resulting injuries. You can see the influence in the Gaga technique Ohad has formed. 
After he left Graham in 1976 he went to Brussels to work with the Maurice Bejart’s ballet company. Though he acknowledges the experiences with Graham and Bejart and the knowledge he gained from them he describes them by being “stations in [his] career…They didn’t influence me like Merce Cunningham, Billy Forsythe, or Pina Bausch (Perron)." David Gordon was another who influenced him.  Gordon choreographed a solo on him, Short Order (1983), while he was in New York.  Ohad felt it was a useful step in his learning process to understand the relationship of a body in space the way Gordon taught it in his “multidimensional” movement style. 
After his time with the Maurice Bejart ballet company he worked with the Bat-Dor dance company in Irael (founded by Rothschild) until his return to New York in 1980. It was during his work in 1980 that he worked and collaborated with his wife Mari Kajiwara, a former Ailey dancer, to create his own company.  He continued his work with his company developing his technique until 1990 when he became Artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company. 
It was while he was Artistic Director he worked with many other companies setting works.  Even though he was setting previously made works he believes strongly in the collaborative process between himself and his dancers, so he adapted works according to the dancers. Some of these guest residencies were at the Nederlands Dans Theatre, Ballet Frankfurt, Lyon Opera Ballet, Compania Nacional de Danza (Spain), Culberg Ballet (Sweeden), Finish National Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, Bale da Cidade de Sao Poulo, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (New York), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Los Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montreal. One of his most recent residencies was with the Ailey Company in setting “Minus 16.” The piece itself was dedicated to his late wife Kajiwara, and so working with the Ailey Company was especially fitting. It premiered on December 9, 2011.
Besides working with other dancers Ohad, given his musical background, has been known to collaborate with musicians as well.  Some of the more noteworth names include Israeli rock group The Tractor’s Revenge (for Kyr, 1990), Avi Belleli and Dan Makov (for Anaphaza, 1993), and Ivri Lider (for Z/na, 1995). Naharin has even composed music for MAX (2007) under the alias Maxim Waratt, and has edited and mixed soundtracks for Mamooto (2003) and Hora (2009).
works cited
Perron, Wendy. "Truth in Movement: Ohad Naharin talks about his choreography, his world view, and why the mirror always lies.." The Free Library. Dance Magazine, Inc., 2006. Web. 28 Feb 2012. in movement: Ohad Naharin talks about his choreography, his...-a0152433179.

Zeller, Jessica. Teaching through Time: Tracing Ballet's Pedagogical Lineage in the Work of Maggie Black. Taylor &Francis Group,LLC, 2009. 57.

. "The Artistic Staff." Illinois Ballet. Illinois Ballet, n.d. Web. 28 Feb 2012.
Kussell, Stacey. "'Minus 16' Is Plus for Ailey." The Jewish Daily Forwad. Forward Association,Inc., 13/12/2011. Web. 28 Feb 2012.
Johnstone, Nick. "Ohad Naharin: The maverick lord of Israeli dance." The N.p., 17/10/2008. Web. 21 Feb 2012.
 "Ohad Naharin." Batsheva Dance Company. Suzanne Dellal Center, n.d. Web. 21 Feb 2012.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gaga Technique : Dancer's Perspective

"They [the dancers] are different from when they arrived. Today is so different, different skin, different flesh, different bones, different way of thinking. Different experience of sensation and connecting themselves to their body and movement, whatever they do..."