by Donald Hutera
One of the loveliest things about Yael Flexer’s dances is their untrendy, non-dumbed-down accessibility. This Israeli-born, London-based
choreographer makes work that is unpretentious, warm and often humourous, yet without giving short-shrift to the complexities and
ambiguities of being alive. “I like to keep it open,” is how she puts it. Once a
dance is made, Flexer says, “it becomes itself.” There is an improvisatory element to her working method. “I give the dancers the
freedom to change what a dance means along
the way, and for the audience to intervene.
They can alter what seems serious one night
and make it funny the next.”
Flexible Shorts, Flexer’s current touring programme, consists of four dances which have been put together in recognition of the tenth anniversary of company. “When I started,” she remembers, “I guess what I aspired to, or what existed at the time, were companies like V-Tol, The Cholmondeleys, Yolande Snaith, Ricochet and DV8. The map has changed quite a lot since then, with many people working in a variety of ways and not much increased funding. My vision has gradually changed over the years too, to a point where now I’m almost schizophrenically interested in creating work that is at two extremes: very large-scale pieces alongside ultra-intimate work. My imagination gets tickled by the idea of creating dances with big groups of people. These seem to draw in new audiences and incorporate elements like film and installation work. But equally, I’m constantly fascinated by the fragility and depth of solos and duets, and the work that both performers and viewers have to put in to make that relationship work.”
Either way, Flexer says, “I’m more interested in having a good time and not over-dramatising something I make.” At the same time she feels a need “to make something that gets an immediate response. I always need to have a dialogue. It’s that ultimate Jewish thing.”
Flexer is reviving her solo Yes? “It was always playfully seductive and cheeky,” she remarks, “but it’s become more womanly now.” And more confident, a reflection of changes within her. “Before, when I was very timid, it had a real sweetness. Now I’m enjoying my presence onstage. The form and ideas are so clear you could almost do it through the ages. It’s very delicate and light.” Slightly Less Flexible, a duet for dancers Fiona Edwards and Lisa Kendall, is an examination of “how heavily or lightly something is taken.”
The bill is rounded out by dances by other choreographers. Flexer and
Hanna Gillgren comprise the cast of David Dorfman’s Short Term. She
praises him as “wild to work with. It’s got too many ideas for one piece. He uses what’s around at the time. It talks about relationships as places of aggression or leaving, and the strategies of ownership.There are little snippets of autobiographical statements in it, and some truisms. It’s light, but with a residue.”
Jamie Watton’s Lifelong is the one piece with no text, although in Flexer’s words “it talks about the relentlessness of dancing and dancers. We’re usually pushing ourselves. The gorgeous lighting is by Lucy Carter [Flexer’s regular collaborator], and the score by Jules Maxwell has a Russian influence. There’s a boxing ring setting, the idea of competition, and yet there’s a delicate humour that is very Jamie.” The dance is for three women. Flexer herself isn’t one of them, but you can be sure the work will be imbued with her spirit too.
WHO: BEDLAM DANCE COMPANY
WHAT: FLEXIBLE SHORTS
WHEN: FRI 4 - SAT 5 OCT
WHERE: THE PLACE:
ROBIN HOWARD DANCE THEATRE
TICKETS: 020 7387 0031
<small>[ 09-08-2002, 08:58: Message edited by: Donald Hutera ]</small>
This interview was posted by Stuart Sweeney on behalf of Donald Hutera and first appeared in Dance Umbrella News.
Donald Hutera writes regularly on dance and arts for The Times, Evening Standard, Time Out, Dance Europe, Dance Magazine (US) and Dance Now. He is co-author, with Allen Robertson, of The Dance Handbook.
Join Dance Umbrella's mailing list to receive future editions of Dance Umbrella News.
Call: 020 8741 5881