So here it is! My first blog post on my shiny new website! And it’s very overdue, apologies for that!
You may remember that back in April I was accepted on to a week-long Gaga training intensive with Ohad Naharin at Rambert in London. A week where I learnt so much and couldn’t wait to share with you, but unfortunately life got in the way and all of a sudden its July! But better late than never!
Firstly I thought I’d answer all the questions I hear all of you ask, the main one being “what on earth is Gaga?”, followed by “is it anything to do with Lady Gaga?”, and then…”Isn’t that a Queen song?” I could go on and on, but no, it is nothing to do with Lady Gaga, and no we did not dance to Radio Ga Ga every day for 6 hours, (although I love Queen, I do think that would have been a bit much!)
Ohad created Gaga as a movement language rather than a technique, and it has two strands; Gaga/Dancers is for trained dancers, whereas Gaga/People makes the practice accessible for the general public and requires no training. It’s an improvisation practice, where descriptive imagery is used to ignite movement, encouraging participants to listen to their bodies in order to guide their movement expressivity.
It’s quite unlike a traditional dance class, no mirrors are used so less focus is placed on what the movement looks like and more focus is placed on imagining and sensing. And for the entire duration of the practice you don’t stop moving, therefore you don’t stop listening. I think it’s because of Gaga’s uniqueness that I am attracted to the practice.
I consider myself to be an improvisational dancer and I have always felt uncomfortable performing strictly codified techniques, such as Ballet. This is not to say that Ballet is not an incredible technique, that requires flawless precision, strength and musicality, all the things I wish I was better at! However for me, the movements never made sense in my body, I felt restricted and something always seemed to be missing or not connecting. Therefore once I discovered somatic practices I have since leant towards organic, authentic movement that arises through improvisation. The problem with improvisation however, is that it is very easy to become ‘stuck’, to develop habits that are tricky to move away from. This is where Gaga steps in.
It encourages you to test the body’s physical limitations whilst taking care of the body, emphasizing pleasure and freedom. Therefore the body becomes uninhibited, as pleasure prevents injury. Anything can happen within a Gaga class, as there is no specific set structure, for instance Ohad encourages you to be silly, laugh at yourself and connect to your inner groove, connect to the musicality of your movement, as groove is a universal experience regardless of technique levels.
There’s so much to the practice I don’t think it’s possible to include it all in one blog post, and it might be difficult to comprehend without ever experiencing it. Honestly if you ever have the chance to attend a class, do it! Get out of your comfort zone and go for it because it’s so liberating and will leave you having more knowledge about your own body than you did before.
A quote from Ohad has stayed with me ever since the intensive, and I have carried it with me in to my teaching and practice; “Listen to your body before you tell it what to do”. Quite often we neglect what our bodies are trying to tell us, too preoccupied with what else is going on in our lives. Respect your body and listen to what it has to say. Now I don’t expect you to try and have a full on conversation with your body about the weather, or what happened on last night’s episode of Love Island, just ask your body how it is feeling, and respond by giving the body what it needs. See what happens as a result, you never know if you don’t try!
Although it has been a while since the intensive, my journey with Gaga continues, and will do for quite some time, as there’s always more to be discovered, there’s always more potential. And I can’t wait to see where it takes me!