Gaga in Italy

Right now I’m about to transittion from holiday mode to intense (and fun!) creation mode for my new show Collision at the Edmonton Fringe.

But first. I’d like to share some thoughts on the Gaga workshop I attended last week in Lucca while the thoughts are fresh.

Gaga is a contemporary dance technique that was created by Ohad Naharin. He’s the artistic director of Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company and Gaga is the primary dance language of his dancers.

I was fortunate to study with Aya Israeli, the Head of Academic Activites for Gaga. She was the rehearsal director for Batsheva for many years and has an immense knowledge of Gaga and Batsheva repertory.

Gaga, when you just look at it, is kind of like wiggly improv. There isn’t a set structure or vocabulary of movements, but instead you focus on the energy of the body and the qualities of movements.

These elements make Gaga a technique that can be studied by anyone (there are two streams of Gaga taught – “people” – for anyone – and “dancers”). It’s full of imagery too.

Here are some key Gaga take-aways (or Aya-isms):

1. Connect to the “traveling stuff” inside of you. I took this to mean the blood, oxygen, food, material, energy moving in my body – the body is a living moving thing, all of it! I feel like this sounds obvious but when you really think about it, there is always movement within the body.

2. Connect to your “Lena” – the sun of the body, the ball of energy found between your belly button and groin. The core of the body. There’s a lot of power and potential in this place and you want to allow the flow of energy from the Lena to all extremities of the body. Don’t block the flow!

3. On that note, let your whole body echo the movement of one body part. It’s all connected after all.

4. The moons of the body are the balls of your hands and feet. Connecting to them and activating them make you more open and receptive to movement. I had a total dance geek/spiritual moment on tue first day of class when I opened my hand moons and felt the energy of the entire room. Just by engaging my first two fingers! It was a good reminder to include my hands in the dance.

5. We did a few standard dance moves – plies and tendus. Aya said to find the form of them differently every single time. These moves appear in almost every dance class. To approach them with fresh eyes EVERY TIME is something that would radically change dance in general – no more boring ballet barre! I love this notion.

I now find myself thinking of Gaga all the time. All I want to do is connect to my traveling stuff and Lena. I find them when I’m walking, eating (I’ve done tons of both in Italy), and I can’t wait to implement these ideas in upcoming Fringe rehearsals and in the classes I’ll be teaching and choreography I’ll be making in the 2013-14 year.

Unfortunately it’s hard to find Gaga class because the technique is so new and ever-changing. There are workshops held in a few places – New York and Tel Aviv hold a couple per year and it’s slowly starting to branch out across the globe. The workshop I took was hosted by the Dance Italia summer intensive.

However, if you get the opportunity, try it! Even if you don’t dance or never even want to dance, you’ll experience a connection to your body like no other.

Posted by Tatiana Cheladyn

Dancer. Choreographer. Teacher.

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