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Crowdfunds Ahoy!

15755645790 b70afcb8b9 zNow that the Christmas season is over and we no longer have that excuse to splurge excessively on Prosecco, chocolate and whatever else people splurge excessively on this time of year, why not use those funds instead to support any number of dance-related crowdfunding campaigns? If you actually have any money left over, that is - but as you know with crowdfunds, every penny counts. Once you deduct the website's and Paypal's fees, that is...

Crowdfunding sites are generally very painful to wade through - dispelling the myth that countless random strangers will stumble across your campaign and be compelled to donate generously (despite a weird glitch this evening which converted the category links on Crowdfunder to Autin Dance Theatre's expired 2014 campaign), so here are the key campaigns in need of your support right now.

There are probably many other crowdfunding campaigns, but I didn't come across them, and I'll aim to keep this page updated as crowdfunds come and go.

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Ode to Trains

travel tourism railway ticket fare ticket train ticket train station mtun1001 lowOne thing we are used to in dance is the too-short runs which most shows have (unless it's a Matthew Bourne production), which typically leaves people with only one or maybe two chances to catch a show before it goes. And if you miss that chance to see it but really want to see it, what do you do?

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Out, Damn Clot

families vampires families dinner time sons eat ksm0306 lowSomething different, for a change. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend will know that I've recently acquired a surfeit of blood clots, so I might as well write about them - seeing as I can't do much else while I wait to recover from them.

To most people, blood clots seem to be mythical beasties of sorts, which rarely exist outside of those lists of potential side effects. When we do hear about them, it's usually because someone's died from a clot: the Grey's Anatomy fans among us will never forget Denny's untimely demise due to a rogue clot. Damn. Other notable deaths include those of Frida Kahlo, James Stewart (actor) and Charles Chaplin Jr (son of Charlie Chaplin).

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Resolution! 2015 In Figures

Photo of Jan Lee by Chantal Guevara

Being 300 miles away from London meant missing most of this year's Resolution! season at The Place.

So instead, based on each of the artists'/companies' programme notes, here's a breakdown of the scale of this year's Resolution! 2015.

Probably far more people were actually involved, but if they weren't actually credited... hopefully the choreographers will remember to include them next time. 

This probably would have made a pretty infographic, but I didn't have the patience to design one, sorry. 

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Ode To Audiences

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Theatres attract such diverse audiences, and yet there is one thing which all audience members have in common: a universal loathing for those people who cannot put their phone away long enough to watch a full act of a show.

It's not as though theatres leave any room for ambiguity, normally: their anti-phone stance is typically outlined on their website, cast sheets and programmes, and usually addressed in the preshow announcement. And yet we will always get those people who feel that they are nonetheless above such strictures. Oh yes, they can text, email, tweet, check Facebook and so much more during a show - and that's just for starters! And unfortunately, due to funding cuts, too few theatres have the available ushers (and really long sticks / cattle prods / tasers) to keep audience members in line.

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Bowie Got Me Thinking

So recent months have seen the return of the likes of The Rolling Stones and David Bowie. Music royalty, if you will. Or perhaps, simply: legends.

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Between Heaven and Earth: Kaet Dance Ensemble

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“See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life. It's the way it was in the beginning. It's the way it's always been. It's the way it should be now.” - Footloose (1984)

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'Snow Flying'... !

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In the thick of the January snow, our team of four plus two new faces reconnected with each other and with 'Setback'. Here's our most recent rehearsals in words...

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Batsheva Dance Company, not once but twice!

Within a week, I have had the honour of seeing Batsheva Dance Company twice in the space of a few days. When I first saw Batsheva at Sadler’s Wells in 2008, how I whined and moaned about not being able to see them again. Four years later, Batsheva Dance Company performances are a regular occurrence and not at all taken for granted.

My first viewing was Deca Dance at the Jerusalem Theatre. First of all, I was surprised that we were to see the Batsheva Company rather than Batsheva Ensemble who have just returned back to Israel from touring Deca Dance. As we entered the theatre, one of my Gaga teachers was on stage, dancing, warming up, teasing the audience: the first sign that this was no ordinary dance show! Also he was in the famous black trousers, shoes and white shirt. Were they to do my favourite section?! After a brief floory across the stage, with dancers darting and pulsing as if you were watching cars pass on a motorway, the lights dimmed. The audience cheered, clapped, danced in their seats (Israeli dance audiences are very different to British audiences). The lights went up and there it was: a semi-circle of chairs, dancers sat in suits with their heads down... Echad Mi Yodea! Starting Deca Dance with Echad Mi Yodea is like starting Swan Lake with the Black Swan's 32 fouettés en tournant (turns): how will Batsheva keep up the high energy and power?! Easy!

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Deborah Friedes Galli: Dance In Israel

Deborah Friedes Galli runs the website www.danceinisrael.com, an English website which has all you need to know about dance in Israel. She is also my teacher who inspires me every week with her knowledge of not just dance in Israel but dance in general. Here is an interview with my inspirer: Deborah Friedes Galli.

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To Do...

I love to write lists. I write lists for most things in my life. I'll write a list of things I need to list if I can. I've even put writing this blog on a list. I don't think this is because I'll forget to write it otherwise, I think it's simply because then I can tick it off my list, and feel like I've achieved something.
 
Amongst all my lists, I've been thinking about productivity, and how best to go about getting the most out of my time. I'm torn between two schools of thought; does activity breed action, or is a clear mind (and timetable) a more productive one?

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A Very Cool Evening

Winter Portraits: an evening of choreographies and dancing both by the professionals and by all.

As a Londoner (I feel I can officially call myself a Londoner after 10 years of London living), I strive to wear the most stylish vintage clothes, know the trendiest unknown bars and go to “cool” events. Last night I had achieved the Tel Aviv equivalent.

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Rehearsals in Words: CoCoDanse December 2012

December for me saw the beginnings, and eventually the bulk of, rehearsals for CoCo Danse's Resolution! 2013 piece, 'SetBack'. Wanting to document the process and experience that myself, the other dancers, the musician and the choreographer were having, I asked each person in the team for a word to sum up each rehearsal.

A harder task than you might think, what follows is those words, and my thoughts at each stage of the process.

'SetBack' by Corrinne Jola will be performed at The Place on Wednesday 13th February.

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A Curtain Up on new Israeli dance talent

At the start of each year, I thoroughly enjoy going to The Place to watch Resolution! to check out the new choreographers, styles and trends evolving in the dance world - I love seeing if there is a new wave or style evolving. Therefore, I was very pleased to be attending Israel’s version of Resolution!, named Curtain Up.    

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Fall into Movement: Gaga Class with Ohad Naharin

I am copying this from my notebook, because as soon as I left this particular Gaga dance class, I knew I had to get it down on paper. With my three Gaga dance classes a week, you'd think that Gaga would have become part of my normal routine by now, however Gaga still gives me freedom, and a feeling of pure joy and exuberance!

Today’s Gaga class has taken those feelings to a whole new level, therefore as soon as I was on the bus home, I had to write down my thoughts. Today I did Gaga class as taught by the very Gaga creator and Batsheva Dance Company Artistic director himself: Ohad Naharin.

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The Israeli Ballet meets Itzik Galili

 “Circles to square and cubes to double would give a man exercise trouble” - but not to Itzik Galili!

This is a review of The Israeli Ballet’s performance of Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili’s work. “Circles to square and cubes to double would give a man exercise trouble” is a quote by mathematician Mathew Prior. Why am I quoting maths in a dance blog? You will have to wait and see...

I have always been a fan of the ballet, making numerous trips to see the Royal Ballet, and I would bend over backwards to get tickets for the American Ballet Theatre whenever they arrived at Sadler’s Wells (which was always a race for best seats). Most of all, of course, for my favourite company, Birmingham Royal Ballet. The BRB are my favourite ballet company: not just because I was born and raised in the West Midlands, but due to their adaptability from classical to more modern pieces and how they always give me feelings of butterflies (whether happiness or emotional). I was therefore very excited on Thursday night to get my first viewing of The Israeli Ballet at the Jerusalem Theatre. In a country with an explosive dance scene, was I about to have a new favourite ballet company?

I would first of all like to note the Jerusalem Theatre itself: I love coming here as it reminds me of home. The concrete building, the modernist touch to the architecture, the winding and overlapping hallways and the 70’s styled seating: it all reminds me of how the Barbican Theatre or Royal Festival Hall looks and feels. So I always get joy going to the Jerusalem Theatre.

Another factor to add to my excitement of the evening was that I thought I was going to see one of my favourite dance pieces, A Linha Curva by the choreographer Itzik Galili. I have seen this dance work three times, performed by the Rambert Dance Company, as I loved it so much.
 

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Rambert Dance Company performing A Linha Curva.

 

A Linha Curva has a high energy Brazilian feel, with complex canons and extremely good use of lighting with square patterns, which engaged Rambert's dancers with a sense of “humanness”. As the dancers “partied” through the dance, it felt that the Rambert dancers were at a party, giving us a sense of who they were individually. The piece appeared to be choreographed around the squared chessboard lighting and through the upbeat percussive score.

On the picture of the poster for The Israeli Ballet I was excited to see the same coloured chessboard lighting: was I to see my favourite piece again? I was wrong, though I got the right choreographer: Itzik Galili. Galili is Israeli, a former Batsheva dancer who has choreographed for Batsheva Dance Company, Nederlands Dans Theater II and more recently the English National Ballet. His use of lighting, complex use of canon and high-paced but still clean-cut choreography appear to be a signature of his work. The number of groups of dancers onstage also seem to be integral to his work, giving it a mathematical approach, making his work so stunning and aesthetically pleasing. “Wherever there is number, there is beauty” (as quoted by mathematician Diadochus Proclus) - yes, here is the reasoning for the maths quotes, more to follow!

The Israeli Ballet performed three of his works that evening, including Hikarizatto, and And The Earth shall Bear Again, which the English National Ballet premiered this year.

I feel the first mistake of the evening was having such similar works by the same choreographer in the same evening, as Galili’s works all had same feel and texture on the outside. This appeared to my friends as “boring”, but what they did not pay attention to was the detail of his work which I so admired. As the great mathematician Henri Poincaré said “mathematicians do not study objects, but relations between objects. Thus, they are free to replace some objects by others so long as the relations remain unchanged. Content to them is irrelevant: they are interested in form only”. If you are a dance teacher, like me, you should be using his work as a guideline for successful canon. In Hikarizatto and And The Earth shall Bear Again, the dancers moved in and out of each other’s phrases smoothly and with such ease as if they were dancing on ice. It was much unexpected when they did the canon in such unexpected ways so you were always kept on your toes as an audience member. For example, at a few points, the dancers form a line at the front of the stage and some start a movement pharse with arms gestures coming up and down from the floor with swings and pliés. Some of the dancers would join in with canon of that phrase, an odd dancer would then start another phrase, and then another dancer would reverse the new phrase and maybe return to the original canon. It was all unexpected and kept you wanting more.

The lighting for Hikarizatto was stunning and added to the drama and unexpectedness of the piece. At one point, the dancers moved back in their pairs and in canon as they left the stage with a repeated phrase within squares of light. However, as the dancers backed towards upstage right, the last couple in the canon appeared to “switch off” the squared lights. This sense of lighting showing and hiding movement seems to be played with in all of Galili’s pieces. Later, during a beautiful duet at the front of the stage, there was a line of dancers moving from stage right to left in a slow continuous manner. They were lit very dimly so they were only slightly seen. This made them even more intriguing and a beautiful contrast to the striking strong broken ballet duet at the front. In an interview, Galili told the Jewish Chronicle that “lighting is poetry. It can define personalities, it can distinguish between cold and warmth, And it can also define space.” The lighting for Hikarizatto was used in a way that it almost became the third performer in the space, as if the lighting was dancing with the dancers.
 

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Hikarizatto

The movement style of Galili is very hard to describe within one blog, but I will generalise. At moments there are obvious ballet structures from extended arabesques, to pirouette on piquée’s, to traditional partnering of boys supporting girls and pointe work. However between these moments there is an almost melting, breaking of joints and back to extension. There is also a sense of each dancer connecting to unusual points with their own bodies. At times I feel in Galili’s choreography that the dancers both duet with themselves and with their partners.

Earlier I mentioned that the first mistake was The Israeli Ballet doing three similar Galili pieces in the same evening bill. The second mistake is that I don’t think The Israeli Ballet was ready for Galili’s technical, intricate and fast-paced work, and it appeared too complex for their abilities. Certainly they could perform the work, but didn't really get to the depth and process of Galili's work! I felt very critical of the dancers as I left the theatre, with a few “off moments” playing on my mind. At one point, one of the dancers fiddled with her costume and pulled it down, a moment of beautiful and complex canon ruined by a very confused dancer, but the most shocking moment was when a dancer went to run on stage, hesitated and retreated, only then to be pushed back on stage by another dancer!

The Israeli Ballet Company, however, has only been dancing in contemporary dance pieces for the last year; the ballet company itself has only been going since 1967, which is relatively young, and it remains the only ballet company in Israel to be performing the big international full-length ballets. Nevertheless, I did feel a bit disappointed as I felt they didn’t do Galili’s work justice, especially after seeing his work performed by Rambert Dance Company. I was expecting to see that Israeli “fire in the belly” but I didn’t, I just saw hesitance.

This made me stop and think: for the last three months, I have been raving about how great the Israeli dance scene is, especially recently as I was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 about the Israel Dance Scene. I spoke about how wonderful and unique Gaga is, how technically brilliant and fierce the performers of Batsheva are - but wait. I had forgotten the amazing dance talent we have back home in England. We have a rich and diverse dance history with an ever-growing excellence in dance training and companies. Rambert Dance Company are great, bringing their versatility, their talent and energy to each performance. Even Galili mentioned Rambert to The Stage newspaper: “Stunning dancers. You English are lucky to have them – they are God’s trophy in your hands.” This is definitely true as we know that Einstein said that “dancers are the athletes of God”. We are very lucky to have great companies like Rambert or Akram Khan. So I still have BRB as my favourite ballet company, although my favourite dance company still remains to be Batsheva Dance Company... come on England, take them on!

 

You can listen to Tori's BBC interview here: www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ipm

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Batsheva Dance Company: The Athletes of God


If you know about dance in Israel, then you are bound to know about Batsheva Dance Company.

England is currently hosting a successful tour of Batsheva Ensemble, Batsheva’s younger company which is performing Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance (2000). Despite protests and interruptions from anti-Israeli groups, it appears that the English dance world is beginning to see and appreciate the power and uniqueness of Batsheva. My parents went to see Deca Dance at the Birmingham Hippodrome last week to get a taste of why I had to come to Israel to study dance. They were both overwhelmed by the intensity, the unexpected moments, the humorous moments and most of all the way the dancers moved. To quote my father, “They moved so differently! When a dancer would move an arm, for example, and reached a place but then something inside that arm was still moving and extending out...” "EXACTLY!" I screamed down the phone at him - this is the effect of Gaga which the dancers train intensely in (see last week’s post) but also so much more...

So why did the Batsheva Dance Company receive a title like “the athletes of God” from the San Francisco Chronicle? Batsheva’s ability to amaze audiences stems back from even before the introduction of Gaga technique of the '90s. Believe it or not, Batsheva Dance Company was actually originally a Graham-based company. Who would have thought from watching their work today that they used to be steeped in Graham technique? In 1964, Bathsabee de Rothschild was the original founder and funder for Batsheva; she had an interest in Martha Graham’s work and therefore was one of Graham’s company's supporters. Through her funding, the Martha Graham Dance Company was able to come to Israel to perform in 1956, setting off a tidal wave of modern dance in Israel, which was at the time influenced by the German Expressionist artform Ausdrukstantz (expressive dance).

In 1964, when Bathsabee de Rothschild founded the Batsheva Dance Company, she made Martha Graham the artistic advisor. Dancers of Batsheva trained in ballet and Graham technique, and  Batsheva Dance Company was the first to perform Graham’s work outside Graham’s own company. Batsheva Dance Company toured worldwide and was a success, with one critic quoting Batsheva’s performance of Graham repertoire as bringing “intensity (more than Martha Graham Company) even though [they] lacked technical ability”. Batsheva dancers already had that “fire” in their bellies right from the start. Due to internal disagreements, however, Rothschild withdrew her funding and left with Jeanette Ordman to set up Bat-Dor Dance Company in 1968, leaving Batsheva stranded, having lost their right to perform Graham's repertoire (in 1975) and with constantly changing artistic directors. Nevertheless, Graham’s loss was Batsheva’s gain, as Batsheva could now focus on developing new Israeli choreographic works, especially by their own dancers such as Ohad Naharin. In fact, on the strength of Naharin’s choreographic work with Batsheva and international companies like Nederlands Dance Theater, he became artistic director of Batsheva in 1990.

Naharin began his tenure as artistic director with choreographing shorter pieces which  were quite theatrical. For example, Kyr (1990) contains one of Naharin’s most known sections “Echad Mi Yodea”, which you can view in the video below at 2:22, or go and see it live at Sadler's Wells!

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The accumulative build in the music is reflected in the accumulation in movement. The throwing of costumes in the floor, the use of the chairs as part of the actions, the recognisable costumes which immediately connect you to your own associations: very theatrical compared to his current choreography. Naharin started with works with theatrical elements adding to his work whereas in more recent works, dancers wear tightly fitted and simpler costumes, relying on the technical ability of the dancers as a more important tool to convey theme or form. It appears as if Naharin has realised the power of his movement is enough to stand alone without being “decorated”.

Naharin has also developed his use of staging in that he sometimes uses in the round such as in Sessions (2011), which I was very lucky to see at Batsheva's home Suzanne Dellal Centre. I was really excited for not only was I going to see my second Batsheva performance, but also seeing them on their home turf. I entered the studio performance space with an extra sense of anticipation as it was in the round with each side consisting of just two rows of audience seats. I was very excited to sit at the front: I was about to see Batsheva dancers up close.

Sessions is a structured improvised piece and there were random “reserved” seats in the audience for the dancers to sit in during the performance. The work was a mixture of different repertoire phrases which came together with all or some or danced alone by the dancers; the overall structure was very clever as you never felt bored, while the silence and softness was always inexpertly broken and the power and fast pace was always unknowingly dissipated. At moments, the dancers would directly dance towards audience members, seemingly intimidating, but I enjoyed this sense of menace from the dancers, as if the feeling of intimidation was the “other dancer” in the piece. Furthermore, sitting so close, you realised how POWERFUL every movement was, from moments of basic slow controlled walking or suspended balletic penché arabesques to moments of fast contact duets and moments of fast strong jerky moments. There were also humorous moments where the dancers were miming the lyrics to the sexual song with awkwardly-held positions.

I have two favourite sections: one was at the start; after few minutes of slow and controlled movements from a few of the dancers, there was a sudden burst from a male a dancer and all the dancers were in and out of each other’s body parts with unusual swift duets, lifts and pulls. The other was a climax in a soft romantic song where one by one, the dancers had joined in holding hands and were circling. All of a sudden, a dancer abruptly burst into the circle on his knees, and off the dancers went again to the fast-paced duets. Overall, you could not tell what was structured and what was improvised, which is what I love most of all. What I also loved was spotting one of my Gaga teachers performing. As a teacher and person, she is very sweet and softly spoken; as a performer she had the most strong and defined movements ever, but also her face was FIERCE!

The fact that Naharin’s work can be seen as high art and also accessible art for all is also what I love about Batsheva, while Naharin also uses moments of humour which can be enjoyed by all. For example in Hora (2009), the dancers bop their heads and create “macho” movements to Tomika’s synthesised classical music.

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There is also sometimes a sense that his works should be enjoyed and not taken too seriously. This is emphasised in Gaga classes: when the students are concentrating too hard, the teacher will always repeat “Come on guys, stop taking it so seriously, enjoy, have fun!” Naharin has also adapted shows for younger audiences; it's not quite the same as in going to see Angelina Ballerina performances at the Royal Opera House, but he has taken his own dances and adapted them slightly. Decal’e is based on Deca Dance or a fun and interactive piece like Kamuyot (2003).

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Most of all, what amazes you about Batsheva is of course their movement. When you watch the dancers you truly realise how they came to be called “The athletes of God”. Naharin’s choreography appears to create an inner fluidity, an inner pulse, as if the dancers have a flow of electricity or water coursing in their body.

In my first month here in Israel, I participated in an intensive workshop with Batsheva Dance Company ex-dancers to learn repertoire from Max (2007).  This repertoire is connected to Naharin’s voice saying ten accumulated words. We worked on four different sets of ten words then finished with a layered set of feet sequences, jumps and gestures. On the outside, the movements may appear clear and simple, but we would be gasping for breath by the end. It was such a challenge to move from extreme and opposite positions and actions or from extreme dynamic to dynamic. Each position was particular; we were always informed how we needed to hold positions strongly but with a soft element?!? There was also a position where your hand was flexed strongly at 90 degrees, but your fingers were held softly and not so straight?!?  When I danced each action, I had to imagine a different concept: I couldn’t dance Max just thinking I was angry or imagining concepts like how my ex-boyfriend makes me feel; I had to think of a different reason why each action was performed. For example, I would imagine shooting at someone, then ducking from a tennis ball, then the next as if I was a waiter. Later, when I performed this repertoire, I had to perform as if I was throwing away my insides to the audience to get the same Batsheva fierceness! I feel that Batsheva dancers dance as they have two dancing bodies in one: their flesh as a dancing being and  their skeletal structure as another dancing being - sometimes they work together, and sometime they work differently. I feel Batsheva are on a whole different level - even planet! - to most dancers and definitely merit the title “athletes of God”.

Please go and check out Batsheva Ensemble to see Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance on tour. Deca Dance is a collection of sections from many of Naharin’s works, so you will Naharin’s choreography at his best: powerful, explosive and soul-grabbing! You can catch them at Sadler’s Wells from 19th to 21st November: tickets are still available from www.sadlerswells.com/show/Batsheva-Ensemble-Deca-Dance
 

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“Connect this to your Passion to Move... to Dance”

This sentence opened my year of dance training here in Israel: it has changed how I see, move and, most importantly, love dance more than ever before. This sentence is what makes Israel’s dance scene so great - this is due to the dancers here sweating fierceness and passion from their bodies: dancers from companies like Batsheva Dance Company who are such soul-catching and commanding dancers to watch. Therefore, this is why myself and many others from around the world are drawn to dance in Israel.

“Connect this to your Passion to move... to dance” is a regular teacher feedback given in Gaga classes. As readers, you may now go off now to Google “Gaga Dance” and may find yourself with many YouTube clips of endless dance routines to the famous Lady Gaga songs, but Gaga has stemmed way back before the lady herself: it's a movement technique derived in the '90s from Batsheva’s artistic director Ohad Naharin. Gaga was named for its simplicity, so easy a baby can say it, and it distances itself from becoming “Ohad’s technique”.

Also, since the creation of Gaga, the technique has been constantly evolving, adapting with how it’s taught and what is involved: the Gaga classes I have discovered this year will probably not be not the same in the future. This also explains perfectly what Gaga is: an ongoing exploration of movement possibilities. The Gaga lessons are structured with layered tasks which explore how differently you can use and move your body. Furthermore, from what I feel, Gaga is one of the best whole-body workouts: there have been many classes where I have finished with my body and clothes drenched in sweat.

There are two types of Gaga classes: Gaga People and Gaga Dancers. Gaga People is a class which is open to all: all ages, genders, sizes and abilities. Gaga was originally developed for non-dancers: in fact, it was initiated by one of Naharin’s costume designers asking for dance lessons. What I love most about going to Gaga People is that it gives me my fill and love of community dance (plus the nonstop smiles of the older participants give me pure joy). In Gaga we are all together and moving together, regardless of who we are or who they are. Gaga takes this a step further; with the uniqueness of the class, there is a sense of not being able to pick out who is a dancer and who is not. Gaga is taught together but it is about your own individual journey, your own exploration.

A typical class (I say "typical" although each class is different) starts with gentle “floating” - floating your body as if in water: not rising up but with a sense of spreading). This “floating” is not moving your body in space but reacting to an inner pulse: “travelling stuff”. A first layer of a task is given, for example you may be asked to initiate the movement from your “Lena” (a Gaga term for the pelvic  area) and see how the body reacts, or move from the “moons” of your feet (the term for the base of your toes/ball/heel of your feet). This is explored and then layered with more tasks. For example you may be asked to move as if “your bones are swimming in your body” ... hang on a minute, don’t forget your “travelling stuff in your body” at the same time. Or even move as if “your flesh is grabbing your bones” (a whole different sensation!) This class climaxes to a finish with you moving to “your own groove”, exploring on your own what you have discovered in class and most of all, “connecting this to your passion to move... to dance!” At this point, after approximately an hour, your body is exhausted but the comment of “connecting to your passion” makes you rediscover your groove and you end up going for it!! At the end of the class, you are asked to shake it off as if you are taking a cold shower or rinsing spaghetti in hot water. Then you have a final patting/slapping down of the body and a final floating of the body as you feel the “travelling stuff” in your body from the vicious slapping or extreme movement.

As for Gaga Dancers classes, they are a must for every dancer. If you are fortunate to be a dancer in London, there is a weekly Gaga class at Danceworks by Chisato Ohno (details). As a dancer, I have never explored so many possibilities of how I can move within my pliés, tendus and balances with little muscle use, or how they can be worked/pushed further or can be connected/disconnected from other body parts. There are superb challenges like shaking your body while still floating your arms. Applying more than one contrasting dynamic in your body is an excellent challenge. And considering I have been in intensive dance training for the last two and a half months, I believe my lack of aches and pains and injury is down to Gaga.

I have so far had three really memorable Gaga classes. The first was my first class with one of my favourite Gaga teachers, Aya Israeli, former rehearsal director for Batsheva Dance Company. I came out of this first class feeling as though I was Moses who had just finished his 40-year travel in the desert: I felt free, exuberated and spiritually awake. My second was with Aya again - she is such an inspiration with her energy, charm and talent - where we finished with the whole class really connecting to their own and the class groove, to an upbeat house dance track. At the end of the lesson we were all buzzing so much we stayed much after the class dancing around the room: we all had connected to our passion to move. My third was with my second-favourite Gaga teacher, Yaniv Abraham. He pushes you way past your strength, flexibility and stamina limits and reminds you to “connect your pain to pleasure”. In one class with Yaniv I found that when I was exhausted, I connected my pain to forcing myself to enjoy the “burn” and bam! I found I could go further than I could have ever before. I have never sweated so much in my life - and I’ve done the London Marathon, so that’s saying something!

Some of you as readers now might be reading this information about Gaga and be thinking “oooh it’s not my cup of tea” (I had to put that in as I’m constantly being mocked for my Britishness here in Israel) but trust me, the “pre-gaga” me would have thought the same. Watch Batsheva Dance Company in action (see below), and you will see how these dancers have such a distinctive quality of moving, as if they have an animal “brewing” up on the inside which darts out at unexpected moments. Also, the dancers appear as though every muscle fibre has the power of a lion but the softness of a feather - and this is down to the daily Gaga classes that the dancers take. Dancers from all around the world are storming Tel Aviv’s Suzanne Dellal Centre (The Sadler’s Wells of Israel) to take one of the daily Gaga classes on offer.

So that’s a quick overview of one of the main reasons for why I am here in Israel. Ever since I first saw Batsheva Dance Company in 2008, I've  wanted to move with the fierce and explosive nature of Batsheva Dancers. Also, I'm a big lover of Israel and I am very blessed to be mixing my huge passions in life: dance and Israel. Furthermore, after being a full-time-and-more dance teacher, I felt I needed a career break to find fresh ideas and rebuild my technique.

In Israel’s past, the dancers of the 1930s travelled to Europe to study Expressionist dance techniques, the Israeli dancers of the 1960s travelled to New York to study modern dance styles. Now, the whole world is travelling to Israel to study here and get into companies like Batsheva Dance Company, Batsheva Ensemble (Batsheva’s younger company) or Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, which boasted over 400 applicants to their latest auditions. Also, the UK’s strongest current talents boast Israeli: Hofesh Shechter (a former dancer with Batsheva Dance Company) and Jasmin Vardimon (a former dancer with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company).

So here I am at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance studying a year of dance with two amazing intensive courses.

Please go and check out Batsheva Ensemble to see Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance on tour. Deca Dance is a collection of sections from many of Naharin’s work, so you will Naharin’s choreography at his best: powerful, explosive and soul grabbing! You can catch them at Sadler’s Wells 19th to 21st November: tickets are still available from www.sadlerswells.com/show/Batsheva-Ensemble-Deca-Dance

 


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