Ohad Naharin

Ohad Naharin
Ohad Naharin
Native name אוהד נהרין
Born 1952
Kibbutz Mizra, Israel
Citizenship Israeli
Occupation Contemporary dancer, choreographer and dance company artistic director.
Employer Batsheva Dance Company
Style Gaga
Title Artistic Director
Spouse Mari Kajiwara

Ohad Naharin (born 1952) (Hebrew: אוהד נהרין) is an Israeli contemporary dancer, choreographer and dance company artistic director.



Naharin was born in 1952 in Kibbutz Mizra.[1] Raised in an artistic home, he wrote stories, composed music, and painted as a child. His father was a doctor in psychology, previously an actor, and his mother was a dance teacher. Nevertheless, Naharin did not start dancing until age 22, at which time he danced with the Batsheva Dance Company. The Batsheva Dance Company was founded in 1964 by Martha Graham and Baroness Batsheva De Rothschild.[2]

Soon after, in 1975, Naharin left Israel to go to Manhattan and study with Martha Graham. In New York he received much of his training, attending Juilliard for a year as well as attending the Graham School and the School of American Ballet. In 1978, he married Mari Kajiwara, a native New Yorker and an Alvin Ailey dancer. After working alongside him for over 20 years, his wife died of cancer in 2001 at age 50. Also in New York, he choreographed and presented his first dances from 1980–90.[3]

Batsheva Dance Company

Batsheva Dance Company

In 1990, Naharin was appointed the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, thereby launching the company into a new stage. The company is international in nature, made up of individually unique dancers from Israel and abroad. Dancers are encouraged to affirm their distinct creative gifts, as creators on their own.[4]

Naharin’s signature style and technique has developed during his time with Batsheva. His style is “distinguished by stunningly flexible limbs and spines, deeply grounded movement, explosive bursts and a vitality that grabs a viewer by the collar.”[3] His dancers do not rehearse in front of a mirror. This enables them to move away from self-critique and feel the movement from within. Naharin is known to be a reserved and private person, and this is apparent in the studio as well. He does not get angry or raise his voice, but comments constructively and calmly.[3] Since he has also been musically trained, Naharin sometimes collaborates on the compositions used in his pieces.[5]


Naharin developed a type of technique called Gaga. There are two venues for this technique: one for dancers and one for people. This distinction is meant to draw a line between those who will perform and those who are dancing simply to better themselves. In his technique, he has a series of words that signify particular ways to initiate movement and the parts of the body involved in initiating and feeling that movement. One example is “Luna.” When he says this, he is referring to the joint between the metacarpals and the proximal phalanges on the palm. These circular areas, which can be found at the base of the fingers as well as the toes, are our “moons,” hence the name “Luna.” In this movement, the objective is to isolate the moons, both on the hands and the feet. This develops a rich sensation and sensitivity in the hands and feet that are important for movement throughout the body.[6] Naharin’s technique establishes a flow throughout the entire body that allows complete fluidity, no matter where the movement is initiated.


His works have been commissioned by the Frankfurt Ballet, Opéra National de Paris, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Sydney Dance Company, Lyon Opera Ballet, Les Grand Ballets Canadiens, Rambert Dance Company, Compañia Nacional de Danza, Cullberg Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Ballet Gulbenkian, Balet da Cidade de São Paulo, Bavarian State Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

After his many years of experience, his purpose remains to make movement that is universal in its ability to be personal to many. He always has a clear social and political conscience in his works, but his dances are not meant to be political. He finds storytelling of suffering and the world’s problems boring in comparison to a person’s ability to use texture and multi-layered movement. He contrasts physical explosiveness with stillness, taking an interest in contrasts, edges, and extremes, which creates vital distance and space in dances. His philosophy, shared with many who devote their lives to choreography, is that everyone should dance.[7] “Deca Dance” is Naharin’s most well-known piece, as it highlights many flavored excerpts from his previous works. Of the piece, Naharin says himself, “Deca Dance is not a new work. It is more about reconstruction: I like to take pieces or sections of existing works and rework it, reorganize it and create the possibility to look at it from a new angle. It always teaches me something new about my work and composition. In Deca Dance I took sections from different works. It was like I was telling only either the beginning, middle or ending of many stories but when I organized it the result become as coherent as the original if not more.” [4]

In “Max,” “Mr. Naharin’s theatrical ingredients are space, movement and light.”[8] A critic comments, “In this tremendously potent work, there are few obvious displays of emotion, yet 'Max' is full of imagery that slips between real life and dance in fleeting flashes.”[8] Other pieces he has choreographed include “Three,” “Tabula Rasa,” “Mabul,” “Pas de Pepsi,” “Haru No Umi,” “In Common,” “Sixty a Minute,” “Black Milk,” “Innostress,” and “Mamootot.”


In 2005, he was voted the 137th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Doron Halutz (November 5, 2011). "The Face / Ohad Naharin". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/the-face-ohad-naharin-1.323096. 
  2. ^ "Batsheva Dance Company, an interview with Ohad Naharin". Culturekiosque.com. March 7, 2000. http://www.culturekiosque.com/dance/inter/batsheva.html. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Goodwin, Joy (June 3, 2007). "Free Your Mind, and Your Spine Will Follow". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/arts/dance/03joy.html?scp=4&sq=Ohad%20Naharin&st=cse. 
  4. ^ a b "Batsheva Dance Company". Israelcentersf.org. http://www.israelcentersf.org/culture/2003-2004/batsheva.html. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Batsheva Dance Company > Ohad Naharin
  6. ^ "Video About Gaga van Bat7 – MySpace Video". Vids.myspace.com. http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=34635379. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
  7. ^ "A conversation with choreographer Ohad Naharin". Charlie Rose. November 22, 2005. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/649. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Kourlas, Gia (March 6, 2009). "Conjuring Up a World Where Images Abound". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/06/arts/dance/06max.html?scp=2&sq=Ohad%20Naharin&st=cse. 
  9. ^ "Israel Prize Judges’ Rationale for the Award (in Hebrew)". Israel Prize Official Site. Archived from the original on April 30, 2010 by WebCite®. http://www.webcitation.org/5qrjbKkZD. 
  10. ^ "Award". Americandancefestival.org. http://www.americandancefestival.org/history/awards.html. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
  11. ^ Posted on April 24, 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili (April 24, 2009). "Ohad Naharin to Receive 2009 Scripps/ADF Award". Danceinisrael.com. http://www.danceinisrael.com/2009/04/ohad-naharin-to-receive-2009-scrippsadf-award/. Retrieved May 16, 2010. 
  12. ^ Ohad Naharin Receives a 2009 Dance Magazine Award (The article that was published on Dance Magazine[1])
  13. ^ גיא בניוביץ' (June 20, 1995). "הישראלי מספר 1: יצחק רבין – תרבות ובידור". Ynet. http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3083171,00.html. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 

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