Ohad Naharin has been hailed as one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers. Born in 1952 on Kibbutz Mizra, Ohad Naharin began his dance training with Batsheva Dance Company in 1974. During his first year with the Company, Martha Graham singled out Naharin for his talent and invited him to join her own company in New York. Whilst in New York, Naharin studied on a scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation at the School of American Ballet, The Juilliard School, and with Maggie Black and David Howard. He went on to perform one season with Israel’s Bat-Dor Dance Company and Maurice Béjart’s Ballet du XXe Siècle in Brussels. Naharin returned to New York in 1979, making his choreographic debut at the Kazuko Hirabayshi studio. From 1980 until 1990, he has presented his works in New York and abroad and was invited to create works for different companies, including the Batsheva and the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, and Nederlands Dans Theater. At the same time, together with his first wife Mari Kajiwara, who was an important artistic partner until her death in 2001, he worked in New York with a group of dancers on various projects.
In 1990 Ohad Naharin was appointed Artistic Director of the Batsheva Dance Company and has served in this role until 2018. During his tenure with the company, he choreographed over 30 works for Batsheva and its Young Ensemble. Alongside his work as a choreographer, Ohad Naharin developed »Gaga«, an innovative movement language. The dancers of Batsheva Dance Company train with Gaga on a daily basis, and it is also taught to dancers and the public worldwide by certified teachers.
Naharin trained in music throughout his youth, and he has often put these skills to use. He cooperated with the Israeli rock group The Tractor’s Revenge, Avi Belleli and Dan Makov, Ivri Lider and Grischa Lichtenberger. Under the pseudonym Maxim Waratt he composed the music and soundtracks for numerous productions.
Ohad Naharin’s works have been performed by prominent international companies including The Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballett Frankfurt, Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon, Compañía Nacional de Danza, Cullberg Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Ballet de l’Opéra de Paris, Balé da Cidade de São Paulo, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet New York, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Atlanta Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, Le Ballet de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux, Ballett am Rhein and more.
Ohad Naharin’s work was documented in several movies. The rehearsal process with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet during a restaging of »Decadance« was the subject of Tomer Heymann’s documentary »Out of Focus« (2007). In 2015, the Heymann Brothers’ comprehensive documentary about Naharin »Mr. Gaga« was released.
Ohad Naharin has won many awards and honors, namely: Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government (1998), New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award for »Naharin’s Virus« (2002), New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award for »Anaphaza« (2004), a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa by the Weizmann Institute of Science (2004), the Israel Prize for dance (2005), a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa by the Hebrew University (2008), the EMET Prize in the category of Arts and Culture (together with Yair Vardi, 2009), the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009), Dance Magazine Award (2009), an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Juilliard School in New York (2013), Honorary Fellowship by the Tel Aviv Museum (2014) and an Honorary Fellowship by the Rupin Academic Center (2015), The Carina Ari Medal, Sweden (2016), Award for Excellence in the Arts in Israel, The Harvard Club of Israel (2016), Danza&Danza Award for »Three« (2016). In the 2016/17 season Naharin took part in the prestigious Rolex Mentor-Protégé Arts Initiative, and served as mentor for Londiwe Khoza, a young dancer from South Africa.
As part of the premiere of »Goldberg-Variationen«, Vienna State Ballet presents with its restaging of »Tabula Rasa« for the first time a work by Ohad Naharin at the Vienna State Opera.