Here I feel there is a space to create
Luiza Nowak talked with Adi Weinberg-Prejna
Luiza Nowak: I often get an opinion from participants of Gaga classes that they are very physically exhausting exercises but they also give them a lot of positive energy. As an instructor, do you take them the same? Or as a teacher, can you separate these two spheres?
Adi Weinberg-Prejna: I am here dually, because as a Gaga teacher I also participate the class together with the students. During each class I give us the instructions but I don’t separate myself from the research. Every person in the studio takes part in this journey. It’s very important. The Gaga class focuses on a physical research. There is a variety of tasks which we develop and deepen during this one hour. At the end we might be exhausted, but at the same time we are brought up. An important element that we explore while practicing Gaga is connecting physical effort to pleasure. This might be a challenging task sometimes which requires breaking old habits. This tool is very powerful and allows us to find new qualities, challenge ourselves and cross our own limits.
L.N.: During the Gaga class the participant’s transformation is fascinating. At the beginning everyone feels hesitantly, but at the end of classes everyone dances as if they do not care what is going on around them.
A.W.P.: During Gaga classes I get a lot of energy from people who I teach. Watching their transformation gives me a lot of inspiration. I can see they stop hiding. As you said, at the beginning some of them are shy. During the joint hour-dance we cross our limits. It always involves moments of effort and also a lot of pleasure and positive energy. The idea of working in our own body limits allows participants to try new things without comparing to others, being more able to look out and share what they do while taking inspiration from others.Checking out and looking at one another during the Gaga class is out of consequence.
L.N.: How did your adventure with the Gaga movement begin? When you became an instructor, this method was not as popular as it is now.
A.W.P.: When I finished obligatory military service, I decided to become a professional dancer and went to study at Hasadna Dance Program for Professional Dancers in Haifa.When I graduated I moved to Tel Aviv, where I worked with many choreographers as a freelancer. I was looking for a method that can improve my skills and develop me as a dancer. This time the Gaga movement was something new. I still remember the first Gaga class which I participated. Then I realised that this method can become a part of my daily practice and warm up before rehearsals. In Israel there is a big society of dancers, therefore there are lots of professional dancers attending Gaga/people classes. That was my case too. Later on I started attending the daily Gaga/dancers classes of Batsheva Dance Company and the Young Ensemble as well.
L.N.: As you said, in Israel there are a lot of people who dance professionally. Does an amount of dance theatres have an impact on popularity of dance in your society?
A.W.P.: Even though Israel is a little country, there is a great number of dance groups. There are big and famous companies like Batsheva Dance Company, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance, Vertigo Dance Company etc. There are also medium and small groups and many freelancers. Although dance performances are not as popular as theatre and music performances, dance is visible and significant in our society. The fact that Israel is such a small country helps.The public is exposed to a large variety of performances and can take part in many workshops and dance programs. So all these among other reasons makes dance in Israel more available than in Poland.
L.N.: Despite of the fact that there are many people at the audience during the performance of Batsheva Dance Company, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company or Nederlands Dans Theater, in my opinion in Poland dance theatres are not still considered to mass culture.
A.W.P.: The beauty of dance scene in Israel is connected with the fact that we can experience many different styles and techniques. Every group and artist who work there,has a different sense of art, experience and style of work. There are different dance festivals there, while in Poland, from what I observe,there are also more and more events like this as well. All these causes that dance has got more recognition as an art form in Israel. We can say that Israel has become a sort of capital of the dance while Israeli dance companies and choreographers has influenced dance around the world.
L.N.: Let’s get back do Gaga. How can someone become a Gaga teacher? It seems to be a closed group of people.
A.W.P.: Every Gaga teacher has to have a special certification. The amount of people who can have it is limited.To become a certified Gaga teacher I had an individual educational path. I was working closely with Ohad Naharin and Batsheva dancers during Gaga/people and Gaga/dancers classes. In order to complete my training and receive my certification I had to give a series if feedback classes. From my perspective, it is the best way to learn. Thanks to it one has an opportunity to work with a real group of people and simultaneously get a teachers’ feedback. In Gaga movement we are encouraged to learn from one another all the time. I really like it. Our community shares experiences and knowledge. And from time to time everyone Gaga teacher receives a feedback from a colleague while teaching a class.Thanks to it we can become better and we can keep the quality and freshness. I am teaching Gaga for several years but I feel that my learning will never end.
L.N.: I’d like to know why you decided to move to Poland. As we said, here the dance is in the shadow of the other fields of art.
A.W.P.: When I lived in Israel, I visited Poland a lot because of work and private reasons. My husband is Polish. This country has a special place in my heart because of the history of my family. From the beginning I have felt well here. I actually find it inspiring that dance is not developed here as is Israel. I have a wish to take part in this exciting stage while dance is developing in Poland. Here I feel there is a space to create. For the past few months, when I have been working out my latest solo, I took a lot of inspirations from the experience of moving to Poland which is my new home now.
L.N.: Can we tell something more about your latest project, the solo Indian Summer?
A.W.P.: The memories of my grandmother, Chaya, are a remarkable inspiration to me to create that solo. She was born near Lublin, in Tomaszów Lubelski. Unfortunately, a few years ago she lost her sight. When I was visiting her, I recorded her stories during our conversations. I used some of them during the choreographic process and performance. In my solo I go on a journey between the past and present.I play with the motive of being blind and at the same time being able to connect and see the world that no longer exists. In the performance there are references to Jewish folklore and mysticism as well.
L.N.: So it’s a very private performance.
A.W.P.: On the one hand, yes, but I try not only to focus on a family aspect. I want to put the light on world that does not exist but used to be such an integral part of the life here. The title of the performance Indian Summer/Babie lato is taken from the painting Babie lato by Józef Chełmoński. I am curious about the audience’s reactions and thoughts when they watch my performance. I wonder which associations, emotions and thoughts might appear.
L.N.: At the end of our conversation, I would like to leave the dance theme. On your official website (www.adiweinberg.com) we can find out some information about your hobbies and carrier. So I know that you are not only a dancer and a choreographer but also a therapist of Shiatsu, a masseur of Ayurveda-Seed and an instructor of Pilates. Can you tell me something more about it?
A.W.P.: As a dancer the body is the instrument, the tool and one has to learn how to take care of it in order to improve awareness and skills while sometimes deal with injuries. I was looking for a method which could improve the physical condition and help to get to know the body better. In addition to the dance I became a Pilates instructor and I practiced Yoga for many years.During my dancing career I expended my knowledge about the human body and realized that I would like to use it in order to help others so I went to the Shiatsu and massage studies. After I got a Shiatsu certification, I discovered the Ayurveda-Seed massage. Both techniques are based on east way of thinking about a body and mind as a whole. Shiatsu massage originated in Japan and is based on the principals of Chinese medicine. Using this method we focus on holistic work which can help us achieve balance and heal our injuries and pain. It makes us stronger. Ayurveda-Seed is a message technique from India. During a treatment we use sesame oil and a special powder of root named “Kalamus”, which is antiseptic, stimulates our blood and body energy. I was working in a massage centre which specializes in this method, in Jaffa (a district of Tel Aviv) for several years. I really liked it and I would like to continue it. However, I haven’t done it since I moved to Poland. One reason is very simple. I left all my equipment, which is necessary to do it, in Israel, and I can’t work right now. But the real reason is that at the moment, I wanted to keep my focus on dance.
Adi Weinberg-Prejna – a contemporary dancer, choreographer, certified Gaga teacher (the movement language developed by Ohad Naharin, artistic director and choreographer of the Batsheva Dance Company).
Kultura Enter, 2018/04 nr 85