The Kennedy Center

Ohad Naharin


Already a renowned choreographer, Ohad Naharin came to Batsheva Dance Company in 1990. The Cullberg Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Le Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve, Compania Nacional de Danza de Madrid and other top international dance companies have commissioned works from him.

Born in Israel in a kibbutz, Naharin was raised in an artistic environment - his mother teaches dance and composition, and his father, Dr. of Psychology, was an actor and is now involved with psychodrama. Naharin began his training as a dancer with Batsheva and continued his studies at Julliard. He danced for one season in the Martha Graham Company and with Maurice Bejart. Between 1980-1990 Naharin was active in the dance scene of New York and worked with various companies. Jiri Kylian of the Nederlands Dance Theater saw his work and their encounter was the basis of a long comradeship, both with Kylian and NDT, and the beginning of a series of commissions from the leading dance companies in the world.

In 1990 Naharin created KYR, a full-length work commissioned by the Israel Festival, Jerusalem, for which he composed the music with Israeli rock group The Tractor's Revenge. KYR was a first landmark in the succession of pieces which gave birth to the "new" Batsheva -bold, sweeping, physically sensual.

Naharin, who trained musically before he started to dance, has often collaborated in the musical compositions for his works - with The Tractor's Revenge (KYR), rock musicians Avi Belleli, Dan Makov (Anaphase), Ivry Lider (Kaamos, Z/na), and Peter Zegveld and Thijs van der Poll (Sabotage Baby). His works are renowned for their musicality also in pieces which resound with imaginative and diverse sources, from Arvo Part and John Zorn to Johann Strauss. Many of Naharin's works include live music performed on stage (Z/na, Anaphase, Mabul, KYR, and Sabotage Baby).

Naharin has artistic associations with prominent Israeli designers amongst them lighting designer Bambi, costume designer Rakefet Levi, and constantly encourages his dancers to explore their own creative resources.

Naharin also appears on stage as a performer in his own pieces, and is involved in the total act of creating, from words to costumes, lighting and stage design.

Seeing movement as healing and strengthening, Naharin's main source of inspiration is the human body and its individual abilities.

"If you could hold one of Ohad Naharin's dances in your hand, it would feel smooth. Think of a polished stone, it looks like a piece of secret sculpture, but hurl it and it becomes a weapon." — Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice

March 2003
Ohad Naharin