Photo by Tamar Lamm

Imagine a group of dancers wiggling, twisting, stretching, and contorting their bodies into various seemingly awkward positions while never ceasing to move. That’s how "Gaga movement" may appear to the uninitiated; yet according to Frankel visiting artist Bosmat Nossan, it’s really about an exploration of the body.

“In a Gaga class, you move freely and try to listen to what that movement creates in your body,” she explained. “And then you try to take over, to control it, to develop your skills through being more aware and engaging different muscles in specific actions. Your passion to move initiates the movement and helps you explore what the range of the movement can be.”

Nossan, who is a visiting Frankel Center artist, is teaching Gaga movement to students in U-M’s Department of Dance through April. She will also be presenting a lecture and performance, “The Influences of Gaga,” at the 15th annual Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival on April 13. The event, which takes place at 2 pm at the Michigan Theater, 603 East Liberty, is co-sponsored by the Frankel Center, the Israel Institute Schusterman Visiting Artist Program, U-M’s Center for World Performance Studies, and the Department of Dance, and is the first in the Frankel Speaker Series, a new program geared toward students and made possible by an anonymous donor.

Nossan was a dancer with the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, where artistic director Ohad Naharin originated Gaga movement. Prior to that, she toured internationally with the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company. A preeminent Gaga teacher for many years, Nossan's own choreography has been presented at festivals throughout Israel and commissioned by the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.

“Gaga technique is all the rage in the dance world now, and dancers are traveling the globe to study this technique,” noted Department of Dance Chair Jessica Fogel. “In a Gaga class, each dancer generates his or her own movement vocabulary in response to the guidance of the teacher. Through their studies with Bosmat, our students are gaining a new awareness of how to dance from within, translating verbal imagery and prompts from Bosmat into highly individualized and expressive movement.” 

Nossan, who is visiting Ann Arbor for the first time, hopes that her students will learn much more than dance technique from her Gaga classes. “I want them to develop an awareness of listening while dancing—listening to their bodies, to space, and to other people. I want them to experience all the possible ways one can move,” she said. “And I want them to enjoy the pleasure of learning about themselves and what they can do.”

(Frankely Speaking, April 2016)