Ohad Naharin, Mr. Gaga

The documentary Mr. Gaga is now on Netflix. It is about the Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. Naharin comes out of a physical culture – Feldenkreis therapy and psychodrama psychology / acting via mom and dad respectively.

His language of dance is called Gaga. He wants dancers to express from the inside, to fulfill metaphors then manifested in their movements. The dancers don’t watch themselves in mirrors – they don’t objectify themselves. They are instead vessels of feeling expressed physically.

“The descriptions that are used to guide the dancers through the improvisation are intended to help the dancer initiate and express movement in unique ways from parts of the body that tend to be ignored in other dance techniques.”

As it presents Gaga fits somewhere between Twyla Tharp and Jerome Robbins. Both Tharp and Robbins were Balanchine dancers – they touched colossal genius. The best trained dancers came from the New York City Ballet. The wonderful crew of dancers Naharin has assembled provide a rich palette for this talented man.

If Tharp invokes rag-dolls, with the ironic humor and hard won looseness that implies, Naharin’s punctuated epileptic fits, robo-moves and sinuous expressiveness are an impressive addition to the language of dance. The great and primary form of dance.