Ohad Naharin
(born 22nd June 1952)
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Ohad Naharin was born in 1952 in Kibbutz Mizra. Raised in an artistic home, he wrote stories, composed music, and painted as a child. His father was a doctor in psychology, previously an actor, and his mother was a dance teacher. Nevertheless, Naharin did not start dancing until age 22. During his first year with the Batsheva Dance Company, Martha Graham visited Israel and invited Naharin to join her dance company in New York. He attended Juilliard and the School of American Ballet. In 1978, he married Mari Kajiwara, a native New Yorker and an Alvin Ailey dancer. In 2001, she died of cancer at age 50.

In 1990, Naharin was appointed the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company, thereby launching the company into a new stage. The company is international in nature, made up of individually unique dancers from Israel and abroad. Dancers are encouraged to affirm their distinct creative gifts, as creators on their own.
Naharin’s signature style and technique has developed during his time with Batsheva. His style is “distinguished by stunningly flexible limbs and spines, deeply grounded movement, explosive bursts and a vitality that grabs a viewer by the collar.” His dancers do not rehearse in front of a mirror. This enables them to move away from self-critique and feel the movement from within. Naharin is known to be a reserved and private person, and this is apparent in the studio as well. He does not get angry or raise his voice, but comments constructively and calmly. Since he has also been musically trained, Naharin sometimes collaborates on the compositions used in his pieces.

Naharin’s works have been commissioned by: the Frankfurt Ballet, Opéra National de Paris, Sydney Dance Company, Lyon Opera Ballet, Les Grand Ballets Canadiens, Rambert Dance Company, Compañia Nacional de Danza, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He seeks to create movement that is universal yet personal. He always has a clear social and political conscience in his works, but his dances are not meant to be political. He finds storytelling of suffering and the world’s problems boring in comparison to a person’s ability to use texture and multi-layered movement. He contrasts physical explosiveness with stillness, taking an interest in contrasts, edges, and extremes, which creates vital distance and space in dances. His philosophy, shared with many who devote their lives to choreography, is that everyone should dance.

In 1998, Naharin was awarded the “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government and the Israel Prize, for dance in 2005. He received numerous awards in 2009 which included: The Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival for lifetime achievement in dance, the EMET Prize for contribution to the advancement of arts and science in Israel and a doctorate honoris causa of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Hole by Ohad Naharin