Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ending a Series With New Inspirations: George Staib and Gaga Technique

As our last Opening the Space event arrives, we ask George Staib, Senior Lecturer, to delve into his experience with Gaga technique after journeying to Tel Aviv for a Gaga intensive. Staib shares with us how Gaga has influenced his technique classes and helped shape his upcoming evening length piece, Versus. Staib will be teaching a technique class next Tuesday, November 6 at 7:30 pm in the Schwartz Center Dance Studio.

When most people hear the word “Gaga” we think of a crazy pop star.  For those who don’t know, what is Gaga technique?
Gaga is an improvisational technique developed by Ohad Naharin, the current artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel. The technique is founded upon vivid imagery, used to provoke specific movement qualities and assist in developing a keen awareness of the entire body while moving. Participants are asked to work internally, always using sensations as a source for movement, rather than psychological triggers. This allows for greater individual exploration and helps the mover become acutely aware of his/her habits, offers keys to new movement inventions, and strengthens the performer's ability to communicate physically. 
When did you first come across Gaga? What was your initial reaction?
My first experience was in New York while watching the Cedar Lake dancers perform Naharin's work Deca Dance. I was transfixed; moved by their physicality, intrigued by their ferociousness, and in awe of their command over their bodies. Since that experience, I stalked Batsheva on-line and became obsessed.  Never having been an improviser myself, I was skeptical; but having had the experience in Tel Aviv, I must admit that I am a believer.
How do you incorporate Gaga into your technique classes? 
I found that since studying, my eye is now more focused upon subtlety. I believe that I am gaining more insight where finding "glitches" might be concerned, and I feel better suited to offer advice. Certainly, I do not wish to turn everybody into a Gaga inspired dancer, I simply wish to provide a different perspective from the things I am able to understand more fully now. I do use imagery I obtained in Israel, and use the freedom I felt as a point of departure. When something is especially wonderful to you, you want to share it. And although I am by no means a certified Gaga teacher, I can offer a little of what I learned while studying in Israel. I must admit, that becoming certified is on the horizon for me, and I will be returning to Tel Aviv this summer for the Gaga Intensive.

Has Gaga inspired any of the movement in your upcoming work, Versus?
Gaga, or rather the study of Gaga, I guess you could say, has certainly opened my body to new movement and that freedom has brought new vocabulary. I would say that, yes, I do feel as though "Versus" will look and feel different, not only because of the subject matter, but because my dancers are moving differently and we are all feeling ideas differently. It is an exciting time. I believe we will always like what reminds us of home, but sometimes, it is nice to redecorate - for me that's what Gaga has done - like fresh paint on familiar walls.
All Opening the Space events are free.  Please see our Facebook page for more details. For information on the Emory Dance Program, please go to our website

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