My weekdays (Sunday-Thursday) here in Jerusalem thus far have consisted of Ulpan by day (a daily 5 hour Hebrew intensive) and a Gaga Intensive by night at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance were I will be studying once our actual semester stats in a couple weeks.
Gaga is a form of dance study originated in Israel by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin who is now the artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company. From my experiences it is about self-exploration and about thinking of the body in a completely different way, accessing my sense of imagination to think about how my bones and flesh might move from subtleties to grand gestures
So, what is Gaga to me?
I am a dance major, I have dance for 18 years, it comes I’m sure as no surprise that I love to dance. But as with anything, so much practice can turn even the most beloved work into a chore, rather than an exploration. For me the importance of art lies in exploration, in what you discover and that is exactly what I am finding here in Israel. Before this trip I felt myself losing some of my sense of play in dance, and I wasn’t willing to give that up. It is partly the reason I made this decision to study abroad. So much about making your body your business is discovering new things about it each day. This is what I’ve found in Gaga. It might seem silly to you that I am sometimes asked to pretend I am spaghetti, but to me that feels like I don’t have bones or like my body is made of water. I am defying the odds of human nature in a very human way, just by moving. I’m getting spacey again…
The other thing about Gaga is it is non-stop. Once you start moving you don’t stop until the class is over, it pushes you. Often we start and 2 hours later are drinking water, looking at the clock wondering how we kept that up. It pushes you. How much more could you find out if you pushed past the point you told yourself you couldn’t go? Sometimes when we are most tired in class and our arms feel like they are about to fall off we just start shaking and the instructor tells us to imagine we’ve just taken a cold shower and we are refreshed and we can keep going for an hour more, it was all in the mind. It has me questioning how strong our self-imposed limitations are.
All my best,
(ps) a little more Batsheva if it tickles your fancy