During Spoleto Festival USA’s 2017 season, longtime dancers and newbies alike will have the opportunity to take part in four unique master classes given by the Festival’s visiting artists. Company Wang Ramirez (of Monchichi), for instance, will lead attendees through a dance class on May 25 exploring the duo’s singular blend of breaking, contemporary movement technique, and martial arts. And while that class is geared toward intermediate or pre-professional dancers, those with absolutely no experience don’t have to miss out.

On Saturday, June 10, Israeli choreographer Hillel Kogan (of We Love Arabs) will introduce non-dancers to the world of Gaga. No, not like Lady Gaga. Rather, Gaga is a dance-world term for a movement practice created by Ohad Naharin in the 1990s. So who is this Naharin? For one, he’s the artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company, a troupe based in Tel Aviv that is widely considered one of the world’s best. In the last 30 years, Naharin has earned a place in dance history as one of the field’s most prominent leaders—a true mover and shaker (groan-inducing pun intended).

(From left) Ohad Naharin; members of Batsheva Dance Company in Naharin's newest piece, Last Work (Photos by Michal Chelbin (left) and Gadi Dagon)

From left: Ohad Naharin; members of Batsheva Dance Company in Naharin’s Last Work  (Photos by Michal Chelbin [left] and Gadi Dagon)

Interest piqued? Just this week, a new documentary called Mr. Gaga received a limited release in New York. It opens next week in California, and later this month and the following in New Mexico, Washington, and Illinois. Here’s a trailer:

So how exactly does this connect to Kogan’s master class on June 10? Well, Kogan has worked with closely with Naharin for a long time. In fact, three of Spoleto Festival USA’s six dance productions—We Love Arabs, OCD Love, and W H A L E—are rooted in Gaga technique. Kogan, specifically, performed with the Batsheva Ensemble in the ’90s, served as Naharin’s assistant choreographer, and since 2005, has been the rehearsal director of the Batsheva Ensemble. He’s also one of few dance teachers specifically tapped to lead Gaga classes—which are, safe to say, not available in Charleston every day.


Hillel Kogan in We Love Arabs (Photo by Gadi Dagon)

While some Gaga classes are used as the training method for pros, here’s what to expect at Kogan’s Gaga/people session—open to everyone, ages 16 and older—regardless of their experience:

Gaga/people classes last for one hour. Teachers guide the participants using a series of evocative instructions that build one on top of the other. Rather than copying a particular movement, each participant actively explores these instructions, discovering how he or she can interpret the information and perform the task at hand. Gaga/people classes offer a creative framework for participants to connect to their bodies and imaginations, increase their physical awareness, improve their flexibility and stamina, and experience the pleasure of movement in a welcoming, accepting atmosphere.

Ready to move? Get more details on Kogan’s class and sign up HERE.


At top: Hillel Kogan and Adi Boutrous in Kogan’s We Love Arabs (Photo by Gadi Dagon)