Thursday, 2 November 2017

INTERVIEW: Hagit Yakira on Hagit Yakira dance's autumn 2017 tour

Award-winning Hagit Yakira dance presents Free Falling, an open-hearted double bill of down-to-earth dance that’s sensual, striking and a beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle.

Based on a collection of stories gathered through years of working as a therapist, Hagit Yakira has created a powerful and atmospheric mixed bill that eloquently uncovers real life experiences about common uncertainties we share.

In anticipation of Hagit Yakira dance’s autumn tour, The Insanity In Dancing interviews Hagit to find out more about her background and her choreographic work.

Hagit Yakira (PC: Camilla Greenwell)

Maya Pindar: tell us about your time in Israel as a young person, how did you discover dance?

Hagit Yakira: I discovered dance at three different moments in my life. First as a little girl, I always danced, I loved it! Then again in my teens whilst dancing at the Jerusalem academy of music and dance I developed a complex relationship to dance - kind of love and hate relationships to it. And then in my early 30s when I chose choreography as my profession; when I realised that dance is what I have to do. I have to dance, create and make other people move.

MP: tell us about your choreographic processes and methods

HY: I work collaboratively, meaning I come to a process with a subject matter, with a sensation, with an idea. I then offer it to the dancers through different physical tasks, improvisation and group work and see what happens. I direct the dancers to a state of mind and a teamwork which I wish to convey on stage - I try not to force it on the dancers, but to lead them to it through very demanding and precise physical explorations. In that way there is a constant dialogue between the dancers and me. 
I am an emotional woman; I understand the world through my feelings, sensations, emotions and this is also how I treat my work. It is emotional and therefore and accordingly the creative process is as well. In that way I treat emotions, sensations and feelings as a concept to explore intellectually and physically. To me they are a most insightful source of knowledge to explore and experiment with. 

PC: Camilla Greenwell

MP: what inspired you to draw upon your experiences as a therapist for Free Falling?

HY: The depth and richness of being a human being. What I mean is – is that as a therapist I met many sides of humanity that I was less aware of – different scales of compassion, empathy, struggles, pain, acceptance, patience - it was important for me - still is - to work with these. 

MP: what has the biggest challenge been in the creation of the double bill?

HY: Time and money! This is probably something all the artists who work within the scale that we do have to face. Very little means, not much time but very big expectations.

MP: in a nutshell, what can we expect from Free Falling?

HY: Feelings, emotions, humanity and connectivity.

PC: Camilla Greenwell

MP: finally, which one piece of advice would you now offer a young Hagit?

HY: Do it your own way! Don't give up and always combine it with other things - with life! With love! With friends, food, traveling, books whatever takes you away from dance a bit... Give it everything you can but then know when to give it absolutely nothing!

Free Falling collaborators - 
Sabio Janiak                            Music
Michael Mannion                   Lighting Design
Lou Cope                                  Dramaturge
Elizabeth Barker                    Costumes
Bettina John                             Costumes
Gene Giron                               Production Manager 

Free Falling dancers - Sophie Arstall, Joel Benjamin O’Donoghue, Stephen Moynihan, Verena Schneider  

Find out more about Hagit Yakira dance and the upcoming tour here.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

NEWS: A Short Hiatus in Cambridge

I'm thrilled to say that I have begun my Master's this autumn at University of Cambridge. I will be reading MPhil Social Anthropology for the next year, as a member of Fitzwilliam College. I'm hopeful that I can bring my fascination for dance, and the arts in general, to the MPhil, especially in relation to minority groups (I will keep you updated on this!)

PC: Maya Pindar

So, for the next year I will be winding down the dance writing on The Insanity In Dancing a little to focus on my Masters studies. Hopefully there will still be time for a few articles or interviews in between my studies.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who have contributed to and supported The Insanity In Dancing. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey so far, and one I am very much looking forward to continuing again, especially with the momentum of a Master's behind me.

With love,

Monday, 14 August 2017

INTERVIEW: Bawren Tavaziva & Lisa Rowley on Izindava

Following a successful tour of Africarmen in Spring 2017, Tavaziva Dance are now entering their rehearsal period for Tavaziva's new work Izindava. In between rehearsals, I met Artistic Director, Bawren Tavaziva with dancer and Rehearsal Assistant Lisa Rowley to talk about the inspiration behind Izindava, Bawren's memories of Zimbabwe and what we can expect from Izindava.

PC: Tony Hay

Maya Pindar: what are you most excited about for Izindava?

Bawren Tavaziva: well, it’s not what I expected! It’s growing into a much bigger idea. It touches on a lot of subjects. It’s different to my usual choreography- the vocabulary is very different. I’m excited to do something that I’ve really not done before.

Lisa Rowley: it's a completely brand new company, so all the dancers are fresh and have never done Bawren's work before. It's a totally different energy in the studio. Seeing Bawren's choreograph on new bodies will be really interesting- I'm really excited to see how Bawren's vocabulary develops on the new dancers.

MP:  Bawren, some of your choreography is inspired by your upbringing in Zimbabwe. What are your memories of Zimbabwe?

BT: I’ve always been afraid of the dark. I grew up with fear. The school I went to was built up with fear- beatings and you know… And church as well; even at youth club there was humiliation. That was scary. Under Robert Mugabe’s regime, everyone was disciplined brutally. That is why Zimbabweans don’t speak a lot. You know, there’s no freedom of speech. So I suppose most of my work is based on my own experiences.

MP: and what are your memories of freedom?

BT: the first time black people were allowed to walk on the street in Zimbabwe. Mugabe stopped the racism and segregation. We were free to go in any shop or restaurant. So when I came to London, I was surprised to see a white person sitting on the street begging for money. Where I’m from, a white person always has money- he’s the boss.

Dancer Lisa Rowley in rehearsal at bbodance. PC: Leah Fox

MP: where do you find your resilience and how do you put this into your movement?

BT: I found my strength in music and through movement. I love making music! And perhaps with dance- I find ways to talk about things I don’t usually talk about- verbally. I’m lucky because I can place those thoughts on a stage and share it. So, I try to find music that matches my idea. If I can find the right music, my body automatically finds the movement. The music is the drive.

LR: at the beginning of the rehearsal period, we'll focus only on the steps, without any emotion. At week five, we'll start piecing in emotion and story line as an extra layer. Bawren totally gives us the reigns though- I usually draw on my own personal experiences, so the movement really comes alive.

Artistic Director Bawren Tavaziva and dancers in rehearsal. PC: Emily Winfield

MP: Lisa, can you tell us a bit about Bawren's choreographic process?

LR: it's very much about Bawren being present in the moment, and how he's feeling in that moment. He generally churns out movement step by step. Everyone learns everything to being with, and then he will select which phrases fit each dancer. 

MP: and finally, can you tell us one thing that we can expect from Izindava?

BT:  so, Donald Trump is part of Izindava as well. What I'm really talking about here is Trump’s behaviour… basically, if he was black, would he get away with it? I'm talking about white supremacy- because it’s still strong and it still exists.

Izindava begins it's tour in the Autumn. For full dates and details visit Tavaziva's website.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

ARTICLE: Bloom Festival - An Evening of Jazz - Dance and Music: "rich, current and relevant"

Fri 4 Aug
Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Bloom National Festival of Dance of the African Diaspora 2017
An Evening of Jazz - Dance and Music

Facilitated by Dr Sheron Way, One Dance UK's biennial Bloom National Festival invites an expert panel of jazz dancers and musicians to open a conversation about the complex relationship between jazz music and dance forms.

With its roots in African and African-American social and popular dance, jazz has transformed throughout the last century. From its emergence in the club scene at world venues like Harlem's Savoy Ballroom and Camden's Electric Ballroom in the early 20th century, jazz dance has been refined, formalised and commodified into Euro-American and European ballroom dance forms, like the waltz, the foxtrot and the tango. Jazz reached the UK through recordings and dance artists that visited Britain shortly after World War I. 

The evening's panel included leading jazz double bassist Gary Crosby OBE; renowned tap dancer and musician Annette Walker; revolutionary jazz dancer Gary Nurse; Jazz Dance Lecturer and experienced jazz teacher Joyce Gyimah; professional dancer, teacher and choreographer Jreena Green; and professional dancer Sean Graham.

Evening of Jazz Panel with London Programmer Heather Benson at Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Bloom Festival 2017 Photo by Heather Benson

Interjected with brief performances, beginning with an uplifting collaboration between Annette Walker and Gary Crosby, the evening delved into the richness and relevance of jazz today. Discussions ranged from Black British culture, to the social functions of jazz, to the constrictions of european dance pedagogy.

Jreena Green and Gary Crosby alike highlighted the significance and importance of rhythm, alongside the freedom of non-prescribed steps. It is accepted, that as popular and social music and dance forms, there is a looseness to jazz within its structure. This provides a greater emphasis upon rhythm, rather than in codified steps. Jazz dance quite literally 'sits' in the rhythm. Space is given for improvisation- for the dancer to visually exhibit what jazz music is.

Gary Crosby, Annette Walker and Jerry Barry at Evening of Jazz, Bloom Festival 2017 Photo by Heather Benson

Sean Graham spoke of his spiritual resonance with Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre at a time when non-European dance forms were not widely taught within British dance education. Jazz dance teacher Joyce Gyimah echoed this feeling, with her thoughts on the codification of dance teaching. While jazz moved from clubs into dance schools, Sean Graham, like many of us, turned to hip hop as an alternative to the European options that were available.

So the question is asked: how can we bring jazz dance back to the social space? With the rise of social media and instant gratification, how can we engage with jazz in "real" social spaces, without the restrictions of a syllabus and prescribed steps? 

Jazz, like many other art forms from within other communities, came from a place of survival. But jazz is also a celebration of the Black British journey- it's an expression of joy. As Sean Graham illustrated, jazz still matters because the Black British journey still matters. It is rich, current and relevant.

Find out more about Bloom Nation Festival and book onto other upcoming events in London, Sheffield and Leicester here.

Maya Pindar

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

REVIEW: THE SPEECH - Lisi Estaras & Irene Russolillo

Fri 16 Jun
The Italian Cultural Institute

Intercontinental Drifts #1
Lisi Estaras & Irene Russolillo THE SPEECH

Curated by TripSpace, in partnership with The Place and The Italian Cultural Institute, Intercontinental Drifts presents engaging dance from national and international emerging dance artists. Beginning the first in the four part series of national and international contemporary choreography, Italian choreographer Irene Russolillo presents THE SPEECH. After her performance, Russolillo joined producer and programmer Betsy Gregory in a short and enlightening post-show Q&A.

Unlike other contemporary dance works, Russolillo created THE SPEECH in collaboration with another artist- Lisi Estaras, long-time collaborator of Alain Platel/ Les Ballets C de La B. As discussed in the post-show Q&A, choreographing in collaboration with another artist is rather unusual. But in its unusual-ness, unexpected discoveries are often made. For instance, as Russolilllo described, a new way of "fitting" a phrase onto a dancer's body, or a more daring accompaniment.

Russolillo begins slow, moving in fragmented steps. She wears a floaty romantic dress- something she apparently wouldn't normally do, another unusual result of creative collaboration. The emphasis is on language and communication; she stumbles and stutters, eventually uttering Carley Rae Jepson's lyrics "I threw my wish in the well". Switching between English and Italian, her Italian rolls off the tongue, tumbling effortlessly compared to her faltering English. 

Irene Russolillo in THE SPEECH (PC: Ilaria Costanzo)

Jarred movement, and a fragmented port de bras, is paired with operatic singing and tinny electronic sounds. There's a vulnerability and a sensuousness about her performance. Heavy- or even orgasmic- panting seems to work in an interesting opposition with feelings of panicked frustration. She sprays the front row with saliva, as her breathing becomes heavier and her stuttering more violent. While this proximity between performer and observer doesn't always sit well with audience members, Rusollilo is effective in breaking the fourth wall. She dissolves the safe division between us and her. We are intimately involved in her performance and connected to her journey.

Rusolillo and Estaras's various journeys seem to meet at a tributary. The broken lyrics, frustrated stuttering, and brief moments of singing culminate in Russolillo's full bodied dancing to Carley Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe. From start to finish, Rusolillo is defiant and rebellious.

Maya Pindar

Sunday, 21 May 2017

REVIEW: Bruce's Ghost Dances returns after 14 years to Rambert triple bill

Sat 20 May
Sadler's Wells
Aletta Collins - The days run away like wild horses
Didy Veldman - The 3 Dancers
Christopher Bruce - Ghost Dances

Rambert's triple bill promises the triumphant return of Ghost Dances, one of the company's most requested works, and triumphant it is. 

The evening features the premiere of Aletta Collins's The days run away like wild horses, which takes inspiration from 80's Oscar-winning director Zbigniew Rybczynski's animated film Tango. Interlacing repeating mundane snapshots of life, Collin's protagonist sitting in her house becomes crowded by her memories- a boy retrieving a lost football, a woman smacking her head mid-romp, a bored school girl doing homework. Designer Katrina Lindsay's colourful staging and vibrant costuming is reminiscent of some of Matthew Bourne's bright productions.

Ghost Dances is showing in Salford, Southampton, Norwich, Bath and Bradford in the upcoming months. See more here.

Didy Veldman's The 3 Dancers draws upon Picasso's painting The Three Dancers. Veldman ties cubism, love and pain into dance, with it's geometric set design and sharp, clean lines. The dancers knot their hands and arms, creating images of lusty and intertwined relations.

Finally, Bruce's moving Ghost Dances doesn't disappoint. It's known that Bruce handles socio-political issues with sharp precision. So, the revival of Bruce's protest to Pinochet's brutal regime in Chile and the systematic persecution of around 35000 civilians still feels relevant today. 

From the outset, the trio of masked ghouls, who stalk and glide, landing silently out of their muscular jumps, contrasts eerily to the folksy playfulness of the dead. Every tender duet, spirited antics of ordinary people and moments of yearning are interrupted by the slinking ghouls. Nicholas Mojsiejenko's haunting arrangement of traditional Andean folk music drifts off, replaced by the desolate sound of wind, as the ghouls lift their victims from the ground.

Having established himself as a politically vocal choreographer in the early 70s, Bruce's works are excellent examples of how art- and specifically dance- can and should, challenge politics. 

Maya Pindar