The Pleasure and Joy of Variations in Movement – Gaga and the Feldenkrais Method

With every new job I’ve seen performed at the Bat-Sheva dance company over the years, I thought, “Well, this is the best ensemble I’ve seen at Bat-Sheva so far,” only to realize that the following They dance even better than the last time. “It is the result of GAGA,” they told me. Somehow, GAGA didn’t seem like a serious proposition. “Ohad Naharin is one of the best choreographers alive and his work just keeps getting better,” I thought to myself and fired GAGA. A few weeks later, my sister (who worked with Dr. Feldenkrais for 11 years and has developed her method for new applications) calls me after seeing a choreography by Ohad Naharin with the Bat-Sheva dance company during a visit to San Francisco: “The movements you get your dancers to do” he insisted “must be influenced by the Feldenkrais Method.” I checked with some mutual friends and found out that Ohad’s mother is indeed a Feldenkrais practitioner. Listening to excited dancers talk over and over again about their experience with Gaga, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to learn about GAGA and experience it for myself. Lately I have been invited to a demonstration of Gaga as a method of movement for both dancers and ordinary people who just want to feel better physically. We were all given a one-page flyer with the following text written by Ohad:

“Gaga challenges multi-layered tasks. It is critical that gaga users are available for this challenge. Right away, we users can get involved in moving slowly through space while taking quick action on our body. Those dynamics of movement are only part of what could happen at the same time. “

One of the most striking elements of gaga that caught my attention from the beginning was the awareness of the connection between effort and pleasure: Dr. Feldenkrais emphasized the importance of awareness in being able to investigate effort vs. Pleasure. Create a sense of abundance of time when moving fast, awareness of the distance between body parts, of the friction of flesh and bones, awareness of the weight (gravity) of our body parts, of unnecessary tension. How do we deal with obstructions? With limitations? Do we fight them head-on? Not on Gaga, not on Feldenkrais. We investigate ways to get around such obstacles and limitations and, in doing so, eliminate them.

In Feldenkrais and in gaga we are expected to look and see, to listen, to measure, to play with the textures of our flesh, to play with directions, we are invited to be silly, we are invited to laugh at ourselves or from ourselves. while we move.

Like the Feldenkrais method, Gaga encourages people to discover their inner animal and the incredible power that imagination provides, keeping them away from pain, stress and injury. Both Feldenkrais and Gaga define “blockages” as interferences in the flow of movement and work to avoid or undo them. Both teach us to find new and efficient movement patterns. Both are based on a constant search for variation as a creative and safety measure. Injuries like Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) are almost absent in the Bat-Sheva dance company, as are Dr. Feldenkrais’s trainees. (Dance injuries are very common). Like Feldenkrais, Gaga speaks of the importance of the mind and the information it receives and sends for the quality of movement, its richness and expressive power. People who train in the Feldenkrais method are asked to “do less, move slower, listen to your body, be aware of what a movement in one part of your body does to the rest, and connect with the feeling of infinite possibilities”.

Unlike Feldenkrais, because Ohad Naharin works with virtuous dancers in Gaga, he investigated the passion for moving and connecting it with effort, sweat, and the limitless powers of creative imagination. Ohad underscored the difference between pleasure, which his dancers feel when they move, and joy, which they find in the movements of those around them. He talked about connecting to the beat, even when there is no music. Rehearsing with a company, Ohad says, you realize that there are other people in the room. “We explore multidimensional movement, we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are ready to break, we are aware of what we are made of, we are aware of our explosive power, and sometimes we use it.”

At some point during the meeting, Ohad suggested that we, the guests seated across from him and his dancers, make a simple wave of our hand around a large imaginary ball, clockwise. He then asked us to stroke that ball diagonally, then forward, then the other diagonal, and finally backwards around the ball, only this time we found that the direction changed, we were moving counterclockwise. A feeling of vitality embraced me.

I looked around me: the pleasure of the people when each one moved, their joy when looking at their neighbors …

Ohad Naharine ends his brief presentation with a phrase that seems to be a quote from the Feldenkrais Method: “We change our movement habits by finding new ones, we can be calm and alert at the same time.

Gaga is developing all the time, and along with other more established methods of brain movement, like the Feldenkrais method, they can really change the quality of our lives. If you find this hard to believe, try watching the Bat-Sheva dance company and you will understand: so much harmony of movement, so much beauty, such a rich and generous expression. This is what you get by doing one or more of these new movement methods.