15 August 2013

Body Culture!!!



I started writing a poem about Tel Avivi DJs this week.

I have been thinking about the body culture  a lot of late. And I am just so excited that I need more than one exclamation mark in the title.

Earlier this month I gave my presentation at work about Israeli culture, which led me to reflect on how in my early twenties I was obsessed with whether there were some "Israeli essence" that gave Ohad Naharin's work its unmistakable look and character. (I hope it goes without saying that some 15 years on the idea of "Israeli essence" is not only specious, but also doesn't interest me.)

Last week I read an awesome article about Israeli dance in Dance Research Journal. I loved this article sooo much because it was just what I needed. I was thinking that there had to be something about Israeli culture that produced its (sorry about this) "edgy" contemporary dance. Duh, right? What I mean there must be something about the way Israeli dancers and choreographers relate to embodiment that is a result of factors of Israeli society like intense collective experience and the historical preoccupation with the creation of the (Zionist project of the radically different Jewish) Israeli body. Which also makes me wonder how Israeli conceptualizations of embodiment impinge upon Israeli DJs.

Last week I also found a paper I wrote for a dance history class taught by Rebekah Kowal at The University of Iowa some ten years ago. As you would expect, it was pure, unstoppable brilliance. One of the things I find interesting is that I was like, Everybody hold on a minute; Ohad Naharin is not necessarily a genius. Nowadays I'm like, Ohad Naharin is the god of dance; duh.

The Heymann Brothers are finishing their documentary about Naharin, you see. That's why I went searching for the cache of research materials I'd used for my dance history paper that I knew I'd never have thrown away even ten years on. Among the goodies was a VHS tape (!) of Kyr I'd gotten from some dance historian in New York and all the BAM promotional stuff for Virus.

And I finally saw Tomer Heymann's first documentary about Naharin Out of Focus, which went miles toward demystifying him for me. I never imagined Naharin smiled (why would he need to?); he had been an impregnable enigma to me.

And I'm going to a Gaga class on Saturday! I hadn't thought about this in ages and remembered it as I was preparing my Israeli culture presentation: the semester after I returned from study abroad at Tel Aviv University Batsheva performed at my school. Talk about felicitous coincidence. I was in a modern class taught by Muriel Cohan, and Ohad Naharin came to our class. Crazy, right? I was in my twenties and didn't have the modesty or self-awareness to be intimidated into a boneless pile of mush in his presence.

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