In The Footsteps of “Mr. Gaga”

by Joy Bernard | 19.11.15

Israeli director Tomer Heymann took on the ultimate challenge: creating a documentary about the life and work of Ohad Naharin, the legendary choreographer and artistic director of the world- renowned Batsheva Dance Company. Heymann’s audacious risk-taking paid off: After over eight years of following Naharin’s footsteps throughout the world of modern dance, he finally presents “Mr. Gaga”, a cultural and historical case study about the choreographer’s biography and influence on modern dance.

Heymann navigates skillfully through the maze of Naharin’s life, combining breathtaking footage of Batsheva’s performances (including the beautiful and infamous “Echad Mi Yodea”, Naharin’s first choreography for Batsheva as its artistic director, showing dancers clad in black and white suits, striding chairs, furiously strippinng off their customes as they dance to the tune of a song from the traditional Jewish Passover Haggadah).

Home videos of the dancer’s childhood in the kibbutz are followed by footage of Naharin’s years in NYC in which he joined maestro Maurice Bejart, danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company and had a very fateful encounter with Alvin Ailey dancer Mari Kajiwara, his late first wife whose tragic death became the inspiration for Gaga (Naharin’s charmed and therapeutic movement language).

The film brings forward a gallery of testimonials: from devotee Natalie Portman to Naharin’s parents to the company’s dancers over the years. All share a deep appreciation for Naharin’s tantalizing talent and imagination. All are united in their answer to the question Naharin poses somewhere mid-film in his piercing voice: “Do you want to dance?”

Mr. Gaga – A film by Tomer Heymann – Trailer from Heymann Brothers Films on Vimeo.


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