Review: Hagit Yakira Dance - Air Hunger/Free Falling - Trinity Laban Theatre

Performance: 26 January
Reviewed by Katherine Colombus - Friday 27 January 2017

Photo: Camilla-Greenwell

Performance reviewed: 26 January

These two short works by Hagit Yakira are well suited to the intimate studio space of Trinity Laban. Based on stories shared through dance movement therapy sessions, they offer a look at Yakira’s form and practice.

Air Hunger begins with two bodies in close physical proximity, attached without embrace, breathing heavily onto one another, their air intake growing as the movement grows, so that arms extend and rise before deflating, growing again into a free flowing contact duet. Two female dancers (Sophie Arstall and Verena Schneider) whirl around the stage, clutching one another with a soft sense of care, that has a rough edge. Developing into flight lifts, forward leaning arabesques and elongated spins the piece gains momentum as the pace gathers. The movement becomes firmer as the dancer’s bodies work with their breath.

Gasps of tiredness and catches of exhalation can be heard as gravity works with the natural ebb and flow of their weight until they are making sweeping movements in unison, like window wipers, side to side. A reflection on anxiety attacks and the fear of being unable to breathe, there is a calmness to the work that offers a sense of healing as opposed to the shock of panic, which is taken up in the second work, Fear of falling.

A male dancer begins his movement ritual – up, then down – but his body gives way, letting him down as he falls to the ground. There’s a sense that this isn’t what’s supposed to happen – the body isn’t supposed to go kaput like this, but he tells himself “I fall, I recover. I fall, I recover.” On repeat – a metaphor for life. Sometimes we fall down, and then we have to get back up. Whether we’re running in circles or standing still.

At times he is flanked by friends who help him up, stop him from falling; who lift and transport him. The music pulses and fizzes in electrical gurgles, soothing and soft as the dancers move like particles, with wide arms, coming together and moving apart, in the same clutching passing movements, their arms outstretched, catching and letting go, sometimes falling off balance, sometimes joining together – a series, it seems, of chance. It builds in a similar, circular pace of yielding, strength and momentum – whirling unison to a percussive beat.

The dancers begin a process of letting one another down gently as they lift, then lower and place each other on the floor, using handfuls of clothing as leverage to make it a safe process. One of the most powerful scenes of the piece comes when the foursome physically lift and make one girl walk, lifting her limbs like a puppet until she can do it alone without falling. In another section one of the female dancers jump-throws herself at her partner – asking for support, controlling the movement but not quite in control of it.

It’s testament to Yakira that through movement alone we can form our own conclusion, through both these works, that sometimes everyone falls, not everyone can be caught, and sometimes you need to ask for help to get back up again. While subtle in choreographic terms, it’s the spirit of the piece that really makes it sing.

Air Hunger/Free Falling
Choreography: Hagit Yakira
Dancers: Sophie Arstall, Fernando Balsera, Stephen Moynihan, Verena Schneider
Costume: Bettina John and Lizzie Barker
Music: Sabio Janiak
Lighting design: Michael Mannion
Dramaturge: Lou Cope

January 26 at Trinity Theatre Laban and then touring, please click here for more information

Read interview with Hagit Yakira, please click here

Katherine Colombus is a columnist, critic and editor. Twitter @Katiecolombus

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