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Why I Choreograph: Ohad Naharin

By Ohad Naharin


Gadi Dagon, Corutesy OhadSince taking the helm of Batsheva Dance Company in 1990, Ohad Naharin has transformed the group into a global force in dance. It has helped foster a rich dance scene in Israel and influenced the new generation of international choreographers. Gaga, the improvisational movement “language” that Naharin has developed to make the human body into a creative instrument, is now taught all over the world. A 2009 Dance Magazine Award recipient, Naharin still approaches each project with a sense of adventure, collaborating with innovative musicians and visual artists. In addition to more than 20 pieces for Batsheva, he has created or set works on Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballett Frankfurt, Paris Opéra Ballet, Hubbard Street, Cedar Lake, and the Ailey company. This fall Batsheva performs in Austria, Italy, Belarus, Norway, and France, in addition to its home city of Tel Aviv.

 

Sometimes I feel like my brain is on fire and the only way to put the fire out is by daydreaming about choreography. Choreographing is how I go places I have never been before, and, many times, could not even imagine exist. Like people might have felt a few centuries ago when traveling started without knowing where it would end up.

 

The love of moving has been always at the heart of why I dance; it is also partially why I choreograph. I’ve learned that listening to the body is a lot more meaningful than telling it what to do. One can get from dancing a great sense of clarity, explosiveness, and delicacy while allowing us to go far beyond our familiar limits. All these things are necessary ingredients to fuel a good process in and out of the studio. 

 

Choreographing allows the pleasure of working with dancers: the sharing, teaching, learning, the realization that I can’t and should not fall in love with my work, yet I can be excited and moved to tears by the dancers’ interpretation of it.

 

Choreographing is having the privilege to be clear and articulate without the need to explain.

 

I love the time invested in the making of the soundtrack for a work. Though dance does not depend on music, the time spent on making of the soundtrack provides hours-long “meditations” where ideas can visit you without you forcing it, while researching the relation of seeing and hearing.

 

I love the great level of intimacy I can reach in a process with the people I work with—more than most relationships I’ll ever have out of the studio.

 

I like the byproduct of choreographic effort that can oppose conventional and conservative politics and theories that block new solutions and free thinking.

 

I love to choreograph since it’s where I can put my skills, passion, and imagination into one pot, and it also makes me feel sexy. I sleep better during the process of choreographing.

 

I love to discover the different playgrounds for each process with their own codes and rules; then I love teaching the dancers the codes and rules of this new playground. And even more, I like how soon after that, they can show me how to really play it.

 

I like the tech time, the days before the premiere, that last meaningful act of putting the work on its stage, the great feeling when finding the right tension between all the elements in each moment of the work, and then the ease in which I am often happy to admit how wrong I was the next day while looking at it.

 

I like how in choreographing, the process continues long after the premiere, how the “physical disappearing act” of a performance (not necessarily from our memory) enables it to reappear differently the next time…

 

Pictured at top: Naharin rehearsing members of Batsheva. Photo by Gadi Dagon, Courtesy Batsheva

«Singular Sensations
Dance Matters: Larry Keigwin's Company Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary»
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