• Going Gaga: Contradictions and Articulations of the Contemporary in the Work of Ohad Naharin

      Dodds, Sherril, 1967-; Katz Rizzo, Laura; Levitt, Laura, 1960-; Jackson, Naomi M. (Temple University. Libraries, 2021)
      This dissertation engages Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and his movement language Gaga as significant and celebrated in the world of dance in the contemporary moment. Naharin’s choreography and Gaga present significant contradictions that ultimately reveal important tensions at work in the category of the contemporary. I unpack what I identify to be five tensions in place. First, Gaga is discursively and critically described as a style and technique, yet Naharin rejects these classifications. Second, Naharin disavows politics in his choreography, yet his work cannot be separated from the politics of his and Batsheva’s home base in the State of Israel. The third tension can be found within the language and principles of Gaga itself as a practice of producing and managing embodied contradiction. Fourth, Naharin claims Gaga as a universally accessible “toolbox” for all movers and all other forms of dance, yet it is uniquely personal. Its applicability to other forms of dance reveals important paradoxes in older genres of dance as they endure in the twenty-first century. Fifth, as a practice marketed separately to “dancers” and “people,” Gaga problematizes the distinction between high art concert dance and popular dance. Ultimately, this project demonstrates the significance of Gaga as a movement practice. The context of its development and deployment, its particular dynamic aesthetic, and the way it circulates among communities of professional dancers and non-dancers all point to the complexities of this form that exemplify the complexities of the contemporary as a multi-faceted category and signifier.This research is foregrounded in my experiences as a professional dancer taking Gaga classes, workshops and intensives in New York City and Tel Aviv from 2011-2016, and backed by research in the field of dance studies, critical reviews, rhetorical and discursive analysis, and close readings of Naharin’s choreography and of Gaga movement. This research engages the complexities in the relationship between these aesthetic, rhetorical, discursive, and embodied contradictions and the contemporary as the label holding them together. I ask how Naharin and Gaga articulate the contradictory terms of this elusive category. This project furthers the academic discourse on Gaga and Naharin as well as broader scholarly studies of popular dance and concert dance practices and aesthetics of the twenty-first century.