When you think of a typical dance practice space a few things come to mind: barres, clean floors and, of course, mirrors.
But with Gaga, a movement pioneered by Batsheva Dance Company’s house choreographer Ohad Naharin, practices are mirrorless. The dancers instead listen to the teacher’s instruction, and then the student is responsible for his or her movement.
Batsheva, an internationally renowned troupe based in Tel Aviv, Israel, is coming to Dancers’ Workshop this week to share the gospels of Gaga.
Gaga is an investigation of the way the dancers move and the range and ability of movement throughout their bodies, said Luc Jacobs, senior rehearsal director with Batsheva, in an email interview. For example, the dancers explore how delicate or explosive they can be. They talk about how movement can provide pleasure when liberated from ambition and how pleasure is independent from ability or range. Even the smallest gesture can provide satisfaction.
The movement is about how the dancers move, versus what they dance. It is an approach that doesn’t disregard any dance style but instead transcends genres, Jacobs said. Batsheva dancers come from different backgrounds, schools and levels of training, but the way the company dances allows the styles to merge where there is communality, rather than highlighting those differences.
Gaga is a movement language Naharin uses to convey how he thinks, and it permeates and defines Batsheva’s performances.
“Gaga is something that infiltrates all the works,” Jacobs said. “I call it a virus since its symptoms are always there in a more or less obvious manner.”
Gaga produces unconventional movements people in Jackson can see for themselves in a performance by Batsheva Dance Company at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Center for the Arts.
The company will perform a new work by Naharin called “Venezuela.” It features two 40-minute sections that are practically identical in choreography, Jacobs said. The sections are differentiated by the music, lights and dancers. They explore how one event might conjure a memory of a previous event, but the totality of the experience cannot be captured into a single word or image, Jacobs said.
“Ohad essentially creates composition, or alchemy, as I prefer to call it,” Jacobs said. “He is drawn to how elements can coexist and can create tension and release. We usually view things in reference to our memory, but the real beauty lies underneath or in between.”
Naharin is known worldwide for his distinctive choreography and “adventurous vision,” a press release from Dancers’ Workshop said. Batsheva’s dancers exude “visceral physicality combined with the depth and consistency of their training,” and create an experience “that is at once raw and virtuosic.”
Batsheva is one of the foremost contemporary dance companies in the world, due in large part to Naharin’s work. Naharin became artistic director of the company, originally founded in 1964, in 1990 and propelled it into a new era.
“Ohad is one of the few creators whose impact on the contemporary dance world has been that extensive and that strong,” Jacobs said. “Something that I find distinctive is the level of sensuality that one can find in his work. It is very visceral, palpable. It reveals a raw beauty that goes beyond the cosmetic.” ￼