USC Kaufman film series to open with profile of Israeli choreographer

Pre-release screening of Mr. Gaga at Kaufman International Dance Center follows the life and legacy of Ohad Naharin

January 27, 2017 Natalia Sanchez Herrera

The USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance will launch a dance film series in partnership with Dance Camera West, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting dance on film. The series, which includes public screenings this year, begins with Mr. Gaga, a documentary on the life and legacy of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with Dance Camera West in an initiative that supports dance on film and in new media,” said Jodie Gates, USC Kaufman vice dean and director.

In advance of the film’s West Coast premiere at Laemmle Theaters, a pre-release screening of the documentary will take place at 8 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center on the University Park Campus and will be followed by a Q&A session with the film’s director, Tomer Heymann, and producer Barak Heymann.

Choreographer Naharin has been the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company since 1990. As the architect of Gaga, a new movement language that challenges the modern and contemporary dance traditions, Naharin revolutionized dance as an art. Gaga, which consists of movement based on linguistic and conceptual interpretations, serves as the vocabulary that guides the training for Batsheva’s dancers.

“The film mirrors our passion for Ohad’s life’s work,” Gates said. “His philosophies reflect the type of hybrid and contemporary thinking at the root of our approach to dance education at USC Kaufman.”

A contradictory character

Completed in 2015, Mr. Gaga explores the layers of Naharin’s personality and approach to dance, inviting the audience to follow the inception of Batsheva’s performances and portraying intimate facets of the choreographer’s personal life.

Filmed over eight years, the documentary blends rehearsal footage, interviews, archival material and dance scenes.

“The seeds for this film were planted about 20 years ago, when I first saw Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Group on stage,” Heymann said. “Naharin is a tough nut to crack, very complex and a contradictory character, which makes him a fascinating subject for a documentary film.”