Batsheva Dance Company’s studios at the Suzanne Dellal Centre
Last Friday morning, I returned to Tel Aviv’s Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre to take my second Gaga class. After reawakening my body in Thursday evening’s class and getting a good night of sleep, I was eager for more Gaga. About thirty other people and I entered the top floor of Batsheva’s studios for our class with Yaara, a former dancer with Batsheva Dance Company who started her own company last year. The spacious studio was flooded with morning sunlight and had a fantastic view of the sea.
Yaara’s verbal instructions provided plenty of imagery that was useful for increasing awareness of the body’s dimensionality, dynamics, and movement in space. Her prompts included the following, many of which felt like continuations of the instructions from Thursday’s class: float; taste something good in your mouth; make circles with different parts of your body; imagine two snakes in your body – one running along the spine and the other through your arms; increase the gravity around you, as if you are moving through rubber; take a cold shower. Yaara also emphasized the importance of taking risks. While balancing on one foot, we were instructed to shift our weight in a variety of ways, knowing that it was okay to fall off balance.
Music throughout the class included techno and reggae, and during the final minutes of the class, when the momentum reached a high and then slowly descended, it was liberating to “move like liquid” to MIA’s “Paper Planes”. In Gaga, I realized that I was moving in a way that was entirely different – more honest and open, more connected to sensations – from how I would move if I were told to improvise in a non-Gaga environment. This is due, in part, to the mirror-free requirement for Gaga. When Wendy Perron interviewed Ohad Naharin – the creator of Gaga and artistic director of Batsheva – in the October 2006 issue of Dance Magazine, he said, “Abolish mirrors; break your mirrors in all studios. They spoil the soul and prevent you from getting in touch with the elements and multidimensional movements and abstract thinking, and knowing where you are at all times without looking at yourself. Dance is about sensations, not about an image of yourself”. It sounds right in print, but feels even more accurate while experiencing Gaga.
All photos by Evan Namerow