"Do I dare disturb the universe?"
~T.S. Eliot

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Final Gaga Experiences

More than a week later, I say shalom again, where we have since had one more week of sweating, grooving, and floating as part of the Gaga intensive.  It was an experience I won't forget, and it was amazing to work with Ohad Naharin and amazing Batsheva masters.

Much of the week was a bit challenging for me personally because I was sick some of the time--I contracted either food poisoning or a stomach virus of some kind that caused on/off pains from Sunday-Wednesday.  I'm writing this/sparing unpleasant details not to be dramatic but because of what it revealed about my dancing.  This was a new realm for me--working through through injury is not unfamiliar to me (for better or for worse), as well as dancing when simply feeling "under the weather". This was a bit different than these usual ailments.  But I found surprisingly that if I had the strength to actually push really hard, the ache usually eased up for a bit.  Don't get me wrong, there were times I admit I was lazy in class.  But if I had the guts to push, I felt like the heat and subsequent sweat was a healing power.  By the last two days I was feeling better.  It was a big bummer (to use really intellectual vocabulary) that it had to happen during the workshop--but now I feel like I can push through anything. :)

It was incredible to have the opportunity to have Ohad, specifically, so many times, and to hear his reactions in our final discussion.  Behind a disposition that once intimidated me (or still does a bit actually), he is a very humble man who concerns himself not with the fame of his work or the acclaim of his company, but rather with spreading the joy of movement to all people.  In our final discussion, someone asked him about the fame of Gaga and Batsheva, and he said that it does not matter much to him--all that matters is that his dancers and students are doing something out of joy and making art that feels right.

Another interesting thing is that I found out he calls Gaga a "movement language," not a technique.  After two weeks of studying this, I understand that it really is a language that you can use to enhance your vocabulary and influence your own...dialect of movement.

It was also amazing how many dancers came from around the world—the number of languages I heard spoken (real ones, that is, amongst the Gaga language :) ), the number of people who flock to Tel Aviv for dance (and definitely not all, or maybe even not even most are Jewish!)—is incredible.  The complex weavings of Israeli historical and religious significance is just a secondary aspect for which the main purpose for the pilgrimage is dance.  I met some special people with whom I hope to be in touch.

I’ve been thinking a lot of what I can take from this workshop.  I feel like this time around studying Gaga, I have gained even more knowledge that is applicable to dance technique and my teaching style.  When I studied in Tel Aviv in 2008, it was an incredible experience, but I realize in hindsight it was truly only an introduction to Gaga.  Now that I have participated in an in-depth workshop that applies the technique to Batsheva repertoire, I realize its scope of influence, and how technique seems more free and flexibility is more available.  As I move on to student teaching in just a couple weeks, I hope that the Gaga language will help me speak about dance in a way that will excite young dancers.  Something I’ve always loved about Gaga and has drawn me to it since the beginning is its life, joy, and movement-affirming qualities.  Our teachers at this workshop—maybe Ohad more than anyone else—see movement as an ultimate blessing and healing power.  I hope I can take this joy and transmit it in my passion for teaching.

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