There was something about this guy even before his face came on screen. Maybe it was the beats or was it the bold distinct dance movements or that voice that got us hooked at the IHC (India Habitat Centre) this November week we will never know for sure. But yes after about 90 odd minutes we were definitely all gaga over Mr. Gaga aka Ohad Naharin of the Batsheva Dance Company
The Indo-Israel ties have always being warm and close. While the speakers on the podium at the Stein Auditorium that Thursday evening made it evident, it was a very normal introduction to a 90 minute of absolute delightful watch of something powerful. There are times when you are unassuming and unexpecting and then out of nowhere its BANG! WHAM!; it hits you. And what follows stays with you for a very long time. This was one of those times. And even as we write this piece the beats , the voice, the narrative and visuals of twists and insanely movements with expressive eyes of those dancers still play afresh like we are still there with Ohad Naharin and his troupe.
Ohad Naharin? Gaga ? Batsheva? As we soaked it in, it was didnt come across as a dance tutorial, certainly not one of the those promo videos. There is something more to this MR. GAGA. This was about passion, commitment, creativity, a movement around dance led by a exceptionally strong willed Ohad. Born into Israel and spending the initial years at the Kibbutz its difficult to make out if the dance followed Ohad or vice versa. The story that starts with dancing around homes, with fellow soldiers in Israel and its battlefields and then moves to New York and back to Israel sees a build up of a character who is all about expressions through body movements. It comes naturally to Ohad be it a ballet, a modern stance or contemporary. Like all artists struggle is inherent till passion makes you foray into something you believe in and have the talent to carry it forward. Therein lies the foundation of what ushers in a movement.
In the past there have been things called the Martial arts movement with styles emerging such as Tai Chi. Even before you know it becomes a very familiar thing and folks lap it up. This GAGA by Ohad Naharin kind of resembles that. This dance movement is marked by extraordinary grasp of Ohad over his subject, ability to spread it through his team, his troupe who is made to understand his vision through repeats, agains, redos, re-enacts and “once mores” till the viewer also wants to say “Come on, now thats good enough”. But not for Ohad. But then isn’t this the hallmark of all greats. No compromise. Get it perfect, after all its a way of life. GAGA is about perfection of a style that is free flowing, is left to the actor on stage but its narrative has, behind it, the strongest of talents, the lengthiest of practices, the greatest of motivations, the conviction of its expressions and the beauty of its depiction. When all this comes together its like a slide show of live, moving, animated objects toying with your senses. GAGA is not just a dance..its an reflection of your moods, your thoughts so exquisitely crafted. You could call it freestyle, you could call it fusion style, you could call it anything and yet it stands out for its abstract logical depiction with a Ohad touch.
The story of Mr. Gaga sees identification of new upcoming talent that could fit with its philosophy, the umpteen performances done across International Cities and on both sides of the Atlantic. Images and motion pictures that are like a dance craft book specifically compiled to wow you. With a runner in the backdrop, that falling of the trembling girl, that synchronized chair dance for the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Israel to even the troupe spreading cheer amongst the differently abled kids, that workshop with the public letting it flow in a GAGA workshop its like GAGA has its own personality. It has its peers and friends group, It likes making friends with everyone. It is lovingly infectious, controls you to do your thing.
Is this Gaga style something unique. To some it doesn’t seem so. Perhaps its always been there whenever a dancer has wanted to experiment. Perhaps its just a fad that seems to have caught the fancy for now. But you can’t ignore that its got everyone talking, its followed by millions, its got rave reviews, it even got the best of the dancers and very capable dancers wanting to be part of this and its got the audiences hooked to performances. Whatever it is, its powerful with a Ohad touch and the world’s going gaga over it.
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