Giving in


I find myself repeatedly writing about the distinction between the mind and the body in my Yale Dance Theater Blog posts. Saar Harari’s Gaga classes have prompted me to further explore this distinction. More specifically, they’ve prompted me to question it. Harari’s classes challenge me to think using my flesh. I think with the skin under my elbow, my pelvic muscles, and the fleshy pads of my feet. I listen to the rhythms of my body. All the while, using my eyes to pay attention to what’s going on in the room around me. I find it challenging to combine an inner focus with an outer awareness. We have to both listen to rhythms of our own bodies and be ready for anything that happens in the space around us. And as this careful attention and action grows exhausting, Harari encourages us to give in to that exhaustion. But you don’t give in by stopping. You give in by connecting your pleasure to your pain. You bend more, you jump further, you reach higher. And it seems that a kind of humility is necessary for this giving in. You don’t give in by becoming more than human. “Be human,” Harari tells us. I’m still unsure of what being human means in Gaga. But maybe it has something to do with erasing the barriers we put up between our minds and our bodies.