Ohad Naharin: Mister Gaga in the Opera



In this café where he invited you, in the center of Tel Aviv, shortly before he came to France, he did not go unnoticed. When he gets up to take his espresso at the counter, slipping in two steps, at the other end of the room with feline agility, he catches his eyes. And yet he strives to continue to deny his star status. "I, a star, Michael Jackson was a star, Madonna is one of them, but me, I'm just a modest dancer," evokes Ohad Naharin when we talk about his international reputation.

His ballets, given to the four corners of the world, nonetheless create, every time, the event. And his arrival as guest of honor in the France-Israel season, which began on June 6, is presented as "exceptional" by his organizers. His group was ovationnée, in Montpellier before the summer, before Yellowish dog 3 by Marlene Monteiro Freitas. This autumn, the choreographer sees one of his creations (Decadance) to integrate the repertoire of the Opéra national de Paris. This piece will be played until October 19, 2018. This is the second time that it is put forward in the Palais Garnier. Another of his creations, Perpetuum, entered the repertoire of the Paris Opera in 2000.

Hexagonal tour

The company of Batsheva Dance, which he has directed since 1990, will also perform on the stage of the Chaillot National Dance Theater from 10 to 27 October and in the Lyon Dance House from 28 November to 1 December. To complete his hexagonal tour in Creteil, from November 29 to December 1. "Then follow the data in Scandinavia and then on the west coast of the United States," adds the choreographer.

"Dancer wonder, Ohad is an essential actor of dance in Israel and in the world", says Dominique Hervieu, director of the house of the dance of Lyon. His abundant pieces are often very political. He regularly gives the first role Naharin & # 39; s virus (one of his most important works, created in 2001) to an Arab dancer. This ballet was, itself, interpreted on the music of the Palestinian Habib Alla Jamal.

In all his creations, the constant fear of slip into madness. That can disturb some or even brush. In any case, his work leaves no one indifferent. "I like to make people vibrate: not just my dancers," he laughs. The spectators who confuse his pieces can only give him reason.

Turbulent child

Mahra was born in 1952, in Mizra, ten kilometers south of Nazareth, a village known for its long housing for the only farm of Israel to raise pigs. Naharin was never afraid of scandals. Did not his parents go to the & # 39; originals & # 39; from his kibbutz? His father, the first actor, had become a psychologist. His mother learned the Feldenkrais method: a & # 39; perched & # 39; Exercise that claims to provide a form of psychological balance by doing gymnastic exercises with the goal of creating kinetic sensations & # 39 ;.

An excited child, Ohad has evolved into a family cocoon that is conducive to the rise of an artistic calling. His parents try to channel the troubled teenager by making him dance. "I came too late and found an outlet to express my abundance of life," he summarizes, reluctant to provide biographical elements. The documentary commissioned by Tomer Heymann in 2015, Mr Gaga, in the footsteps of Ohad Naharin, shows that his practice of dance is more at home on his 15th, the circus than in the classical ballet …

Called the flag in 1973, he executed his military service in the middle of the Yom Kippur war, and joined the group of comedians who gave performances to young conscripts between two battles. This experience disturbs his existence. "I did not know what to do with my life so far, and Destiny told me what to do," he says. His formidable physical skills led him to improvise on stage, for two years, acrobatic tracks. "My only ambition was to change the ideas of my classmates, often shocked by what they lived on the front line."

New York debut

Ohad Naharin returned to civilian life in 1975. Martha Graham (1894-1991) hired her at the Batsheva Dance Company, which she founded ten years ago in the old quarter Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv. But after two years in the army, the young man has trouble with the discipline of the American choreographer. He leaves Israel for the United States. "I did not understand what kind of genius she was," he apologizes afterwards. He came to the Juilliard school and perfected his technique with Maggie Black and David Howard. Then he takes the path of the plateaus by joining the Bat-Dor Company of Israel. "Recruited by Maurice Béjart, I then left to live in Belgium, but I have not lived in Brussels for long and quickly returned to Manhattan". His decision has been taken: he wants to start his own company.

In 1978 he married Mari Kajiwara, the most prominent dancer of Alvin Ailey's group, and then at the height of her fame. Both create experimental pieces that do not immediately meet the success. Ohad Naharin has to multiply chores to "cook the pot". In 1981, however Haru No Umi ("The Sea of ​​Spring" in Japanese) seduces the critics. And his career begins. From 1984 until the death of Mari Kajiwara, in 2001, the pair will play leapfrog on four continents.

Landing in France

The adventure of Naharin in France began in the early 1990s. "In 1993 I was invited to present Mabul ("Flood" or "Flood" in Hebrew) and the reception was very cordial, "he remembers." The French understand when I tell them about the pleasure of dancing, "he continues, to see his interpreters twisting and after a series of confrontations, it is sometimes difficult at times to understand where this idea of ​​pleasure settles in. Naharin's dance is more of a martial arts than a love parade, but as time goes by, his creations disappear.

Paradox: when his soundtracks are electrified, his & # 39; story & # 39; soft. Particular for Mamootot (2003) or Max (in 2007), which he composes or arranges music. Long fascinated by the Far East, he gradually returns to more Israeli themes and motifs. Those who do not like being reduced to this identity of the Jewish or Israeli dancer, will again visit the traditional dance of the Hebrew state in 2009, the Hora. "The term does not just refer to a dance, which must be said to have been imported from Romania. Hora also means the time in Spanish and Italian, but also in Polish, "he says, unwilling to explain what he hears in this room.

"I have always preferred the fact that my dancers introduce a story that is personal to them, in their own role," he says. Nevertheless, the Israeli "hora" will remain very present in his work and, in 2011, Sadeh
21 ("Territoire" 21, translated into French) takes again the motif of these rounds where one holds by the hand, forming star figures that sometimes explode in rosettes.

Ohad Naharin developed the Gaga movement: a form of dance that drives someone to seek a state of spiritual availability in the heart of the movement. His internships are very popular.

© Ascaf Asc

Since taking charge of the dance company Batsheva, Ohad Naharin has developed a training technique for his dancers, with an emphasis on improvisation and role playing. "He tells us, for example, to imagine that a spirit has taken possession of our body …", one of the members of his company testifies. Ohad Naharin believes in the transmutation of souls? This esoteric concept that the old sages of the Talmud call the "Guilgoul haneshamot"? "Not at all," he protests. I am bad in religion. I do not know about Kabbalah. "False choice.

Ohad Naharin prefers the dynamic and sensory experience of a cerebral approach to dance. At the beginning of the year 2000 he and his brother propose to the general public the training technique that he has developed for his dancers. He starts by organizing workshops for artists who want to develop a "renewed" approach to their way of expression. It also addresses the general public. These workshops of "Gaga dance", as he called them, are a hit. Organized for the first time in the Negev desert, these courses spread all over the world. With various modules, sometimes very briefly, in which the participants undertake to regain their bodies, these workshops, where the influence of the Feldenkrais method is determined, meet a sensational echo. It must be said that the Gaga technique is surfing, even in his name, on the fashion of yoga. "Dance is the three-dimensional translation of affective states, with the aim to sometimes convert negative emotions into pure energy, and the techniques of the dancers can be useful to everyone, Naharin argues.

Master to think

At the head of a second formation, exclusively composed of young dancers from all over the world, the Young TogetherOhad Naharin now multiplies representations all over the planet, sometimes playing the same show in two different countries the same evening. He has no other ambition than to communicate with his audience & # 39 ;, the time of an evening. With this in mind, he regularly organizes large open air meetings. Demonstrations often disturbed by the BDS movement that plans to boycott, including cultural, a political weapon to defend the Palestinian cause. "Whenever these demonstrators come to one of my shows, I will meet them because I am an avid supporter of the Palestinian cause," says Ohad Naharin, who adds: "If the boycott would bring peace to the area, I would be the first to boycott myself. "

The choreographer, who is labeled far left in his country, often criticizes the government of Netanyahu. "I take part in a multitude of citizens' initiatives that promote the rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians, I have learned from dance that only gestures are important, and do not remain stuck in an attitude, or in a form of immobility, but instead go to others all the time, even if it is sometimes risky, only this movement of itself leads to inner peace, without which no peace can be made with one's family. "Despite his still youthful appearance, the 66-year-old Ohad Naharin a wise …


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