Ohad Naharin is the resident choreographer at the Batsheva Dance Company and the creator of the body language Gaga. Born in Mirza, Israel in 1952, his mother was a choreographer, a dance instructor and a specialist of the Feldenkrais Method and his father was an actor and psychologist. Ohad Naharin joined the Batsheva Dance Company in 1974 without any real training. During his first year there, Martha Graham, who was then the Batsheva’s resident choreographer, asked him to join her own company in New York. Soon thereafter, in 1975 and 1976 he completed his training at the School of American Ballet and the Julliard School. He also trained under Maggie Black and David Howard before joining Maurice Béjart’s Ballet of the 20th Century in Brussels for a season. In 1979, Ohad Naharin returned to New York where he made his debut as a choreographer with the Kazuko Hirabayshi Studio. Between 1980 and 1990, he presented his works in New York and around the world, creating several of them for the Batsheva Dance Company and the Nederlands Dans Theater. During this period, he worked with his first wife, the dancer Mari Kajiwara, as well as with a group of New York-based dancers. Their artistic collaboration continued until 2001, the year in which Mari Kajiwara died of cancer. In 1990, Ohad Naharin became the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company. That same year, he founded Batsheva – The Young Ensemble, the company’s junior ballet. Since then, he has created over thirty works for the two companies. In addition to his work on stage, he is the pioneering creator of the language Gaga. The fruit of his extensive research into the exploration of movement, this innovative language helps to develop the body’s senses and its ability to perceive things. It also works to build an awareness of different forms of movement, to invent new gestures and to push beyond the limits of the known world. Today, Gaga is an integral part of the dancers’ daily training at Batsheva. It is also taught around the world to professional and amateur dancers alike. During his childhood, Ohad Naharin received a musical training which still influences his work today. His creative output is imbued with a unique musicality and is testimony to the rich and fruitful collaboration with the world of music, be it with the Israeli rock group The Tractor’s Revenge (Kyr, 1990), the singers Avi Balleli and Dan Makov (Anaphase, 1993), Ivri Lider (Z/na, 1995) or Grischa Lichtenberger (Last Work, 2015). Using the pseudonym of Maxim Waratt, Ohad Naharin has also composed music, most notably for MAX (2007). He also reworks and mixes soundtracks, as he did for Mamootot (2003), Hora (2009), Sadeh21 (2011), The Hole (2013), Last Work (2015) and Venezuela (2017). Ohad Naharin’s work has also been the subject of several films, including the 2007 documentary Out of focus, in which the director Tomer Heymann filmed the work of the choreographer as he passed on the ballet Decadance to the artists of the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. In 2015, the Heymann brothers’ documentary, Mr. Gaga, which retraced the life of Ohad Naharin won acclaim from audiences and critics alike. In 2018, a new version of Decadance entered the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet. Naharin, who is a dual national of Israel and the USA, currently lives in Israel with his wife, the dancer and costume designer Eri Nakamura, and their daughter Noga.
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