MR. GAGA: A TRUE STORY OF LOVE AND DANCE by Carol Kaufman Segal
The documentary about the life of choreographer Ohad Naharin is alluring in every way. Born and raised on a kibbutz in Israel, he was ordained to become a dancer though he did not pursue studying the art until the age of 22 after serving in the Israeli army with an entertainment company. While visiting Israel, Martha Graham saw him and invited him to join her company in New York. This was his entry into the United States.
He did not stay too long with Martha Graham and ended up one season with Maurice Bejart. Not feeling fulfilled, he started to develop works of his own and began his career as a choreographer. Naharin was (and is) a task master, and his early years were contentious. Sometimes dancers would walk out of rehearsals, but they always seemed to return. Though he was hard on his dancers, they respected him and believed in his work. While in New York, he met and married Mari Kajiwara, a lead dancer with Alvin Ailey, who left the company to join Naharin.
Naharin returned to Israel with Kajiwara when he was offered the position to run the Batsheva Dance Company. That is where he flourished and developed his unique dance form that he named Gaga. Watching his style of choreography is not only exhilarating, but a wonder to watch. It takes a special skill to develop, and definitely a special body to perform.
His is “a true story of love and dance”. Naharin’s love and passion for dance is obvious throughout the film. His love for Mari was strong, and unfortunately, after she passed away from cancer at the age of 50, his love of dance helped him to survive her loss.
I especially found my interest in the dance rehearsals and how they were tackled, and finally and particularly, the dance creations themselves. It has to take a task master like Ohad Naharin, Mr. Gaga himself, to create such beauty. Directed by Tomer Heymann.
Playhouse 7, Pasadena
Monica Film Center, Santa Monica
Regal University Town Center, Irvine
Running time, 100 minutes