Used to Be a Blonde by Sharon Eyal with National Youth Dance Company – NYDC ”
Saturday 7th April – @ Sadler’s Wells
Eyal, Sharon! Did you know she was part of Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva for a good number of years? You can tell actually, the source of her vocabulary is there – ensemble work, unison moves, sharp shapes, meltbodies crystallised into stillness, the dancer as an instinctual animal, hormonal. Ferocious.
Well, National Youth Dance Company… these kids do one show a year in major cities and the membership varies a lot from one year to another. 17-18 years of age most of them. Extremely shipshape! And they’re paired with choreographers of this prestige. So literally one show in London per year, and then touring throughout Uk. They’ll be in Brighton on 18th July I guess. Try and see them. It’s a burst of energy and vibration, hard to contain.
Sharon’s put an elite company piece in their bodies today. All that eagerness, that explosion and limitless was there, but that’s where it was messy. You can’t get the rigorous precision in their moves like you may have seen in NDT’s 2 (their junior team, so practically same age range, in February). Yet! Unpolished raw precious stones. Their bodies and moves were hardly hiding their own history. Young souls feel they have so much to tell you of themselves, eager to be, hard to discipline. There’s a bright side to this, you can tell tales of frailties, of insecurities, of love, of generosity or impudence, arrogance of youth tamed to where one needs to glue in. But you needed that brashness, that joy. Still Eyal managed to get them in tune. And allow self colors to shine through.
Some skin shaped overalls, black silky, sensuously casting layers of dark light, in unison, again mesmeric. You’d be forgiven for any sensual perceptions. It’s like it was meant to trigger it.
Cultural background, as diverse as you can get. This is the first time I saw a dancer wearing glasses throughout. A filigranic rubber-twisting kid. You couldn’t take your eyes off of him, he moved as if he was from a different specie. (Alex Thirkle) Ended up being the star of the show for 60% of it. And bear in mind this was a 41 odd ensemble. Eyal had to hide him way in the back behind the more muscly taller guys towards the end so we don’t lose track of the body-choir.
There was an extremely emotional dancer among them, very small, 4.7-5 feet or so. (Beth Gardiner). In rhythmic pace with everyone else. Didn’t show a single slip throughout. But an persisting energy particularly as she briefly came into poll position at one point during the show. She was bursting in tears and smiles at the end. I saw her after that in the hall crowd. Still tearful. I didn’t realise from the distance but she was a dancer with Down syndrome. Unexpected and yet same quality of work. I later saw she’d been part of other projects with them.
Some dancers were so honest and self offering. It was sharp chest pump in and out. Memories of drama class exercises would come to my mind as I watched. And even new ones I made as I watched along. New ideas of how to provoke freedom, creativity of expression. How you FEEL there are only 3 bodies moving in the whole group when you’re part of it or how do you know you are the one leading the pack. Your energy, how do you take ownership of that, how do you pass it along to another. That lead, that generosity. Voice and movement classes. (That’s with Annemette Verspeak and Kneeve from Sam’s Method Acting and Guildhall… but that’s another matter). The synchronicity, the flow, the humdrum of hive-motion, the being together.
At start a half-circled crowd slowly growing on you. The front edge girls were leading packs of other girls moving in cut-sharp unison phases. A blonde lead and a brunette at opposite ends. Sword-like provoking each other. Spadassins. The whole half-circle closing more and more into a three quarters one, short caving towards the centre – half a shoulder. Then breathing out – wider stage embrace, by a similar half a shoulder.
The play of the hands, on black, or of the torsos. Very good!
High tempo club music. It’s a trademark of Eyal it seems.
Many times through the piece I couldn’t control myself, movements bursting through the seams. My fingers would go crazy, trembling in choreos especially in the sequences where just 3-4 dancers would stay put and move on the spot, hard melting, while the rest would hypnotise us with shimmering travels, random trough the scene, like snowflakes… this is not metaphoric, I say this for those that really know how snowflakes move, layers and layers of them, in contradictory directions. Maintaining a unity and a disparity at the same time, in rebellious curtains.