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Sirui Liu and Daniel Wagner / Image: Aaron Conway

Why You’ll Go “Gaga” Over The Cincinnati Ballet’s New Production

“Like a bird moves in a flock, or like a fish moves in a school. Each is individually unique, yet somehow harmonious."

That's how dancer Daniel Wagner describes what Gaga movement should look like. Although in the beginning, when the Cincinnati Ballet dancers were learning it, they struggled to let go of their extensive classical instruction.

After all, Gaga movement is an ultra-contemporary improvisational dance style from the mind of Tel-Aviv choreographer Ohad Naharin. It’s not a routine, it’s not particularly balletic, and it doesn’t belong to just one production.

In fact, Gaga is a “language of movement.” Yes, I know that means absolutely nothing to you, but think of it like this: Gaga is more of a sensory experience than a dance. It’s improvisational. It’s freeform. It’s kinesthetic. It’s “moving from far engines,” says Wagner.

Moving from far engines? Aren’t you going to explain that one?

Well no, actually. First, because it’s one of those gotta-see-it-to-know-what-I’m-talking-about things. And second, because I’m running out of space.


We’ve talked a bit on Cincinnati Refined about how ballet is different these days. Think of Alice in Wonderland (colorful, dynamic, theatrical). Well, Bold Moves is the other side of the contemporary dance coin. This stuff is lithe — not "live," you hipsters. This stuff is passionate, heavily stylized, and loads of fun — not to mention unique in the world of performance art.

The production has two parts:

Cut To The Chase: “Athletic” and “sensual,” are the buzzwords here. Set to Beethoven’s Sting Quartet “Op. 18, No. 1 in F Major,” the new work comes from the mind of celebrated Cincinnati Ballet Resident Choreographer Adam Hougland. It’ll be played onstage by Ariel Quartet, an award-winning ensemble that hails from Israel. (American Record Guide described the Ariel Quartet as “a consummate ensemble gifted with utter musicality and remarkable interpretive power,” for what it’s worth.)

Minus 16: What ties Dean Martin, the Mambo, techno music, and Israeli folk together? For one, they’re toe-tapping genres (trust me on the last one). But more pertinent to us is that they’re the eclectic musical backdrop for the Gaga technique. Yep, Minus 16 features a series of “irresistible and mesmerizing” vignettes that incorporate improvisation and Gaga and “break down the barriers between performers and audience members.”

As I said above, you've gotta see it to know what I’m talking about. So why don’t you?



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The Cincinnati Ballet will perform Bold Moves March 17-18. Find out more about the production here.