Review: Hagit Yakira - Wild Card - Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler's Wells

Performance: 27 & 28 October 2016
Reviewed by Rachel Elderkin - Monday 31 October 2016

Hagit Yakira - 'Free Falling'. Photo: Bettina Strenske

Performance reviewed: 28 October

One man falling – or making himself fall. On each occasion he recovers, his actions building in pace and intensity until he is joined by his fellow performers. As they offer him momentary support the work evolves into an ever-moving, ever-circling game in which the four dancers watch and respond to each other; falling or supporting, their reactions natural and instinctive.

Hagit Yakira is a London-based Israeli choreographer. Her company’s new work, Free Falling, created on her four dancers, is part of Sadler’s Wells’ Wild Card series – a number of curated evenings presenting work from a selected choreographer, dancer or producer.

Free Falling is a work that shifts into a new state almost imperceptibly – only once a change of pace or tactic has happened do you realise that it has taken place. As the work progresses it begins to revolve around another dancer, the other three waiting upon her movements, ready to come to her aid. Her eyes closed she falls or jumps towards their bodies, relaxed and trusting. Her companions roll her into lifts then slowly lower her to the floor, by limbs and by clothing.

Throughout Free Falling the dancers are quiet yet alert, observing one another and reacting to the shifting energy between them. Through their intense care and focus we become aware of these usually invisible connections that exist between performers. There is a calm atmosphere, a sense of trust and collectiveness between the dancers.

Yakira does not so much create a performance as encapsulate a state of being. Free Falling is a subdued, almost hypnotic work, emphasised by composer Sabio Janiak’s equally soft and lulling music, but it is none the less engaging.

As the dancers’ falls increase in speed and regularity, the chances of being caught by their companions diminishes until, finally, they are free falling. The physical support of each other, so essential before, is now rendered unnecessary, but there remains a tangible connection between the dancers, an awareness and care of one another. It’s an unassuming, touching performance with an overriding sense of togetherness and support – within this group, there is always a recovery from the fall.

As part of the Wild Card event we are shown the responses of three artists to Yakira’s work, led by dramaturg, writer and researcher Dr Martin Hargreaves. It’s somewhat unusual to be presented with this immediately after a performance, but here it seems to emphasise that Free Falling is not simply a show, but a sharing of Yakira’s practice.

A video presentation of Dr Emma Dowling’s spoken response is followed by two short performed reactions. Dance Artist Alexandrina Hemsley builds off the energy of the work, shaking through space, her accompanying narration shifting from the personal to political. Dr Efrosini Protopapa presents gifts to the work, an informal, comical response highlighting the unseen elements that go into the production of a piece. As these artists move through the audience, now seated haphazardly around the stage, they help bring us a little closer to the work we have seen, encouraging us to consider and reflect on it.

These unique responses may be an unexpected addition but they don’t feel out of place. There’s a sense that Yakira wants her audience to share in her work, to bring that connection, so present between the performers, beyond the confines of the stage.

Rachel Elderkin is a freelance dancer and dance writer. She has written for a number of arts publications and regularly contributes to The Stage, Fjord Review and British Theatre Guide. Twitter: @Rachel_Elderkin

Photos: Bettina Strenske

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