Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Sharon Eyal / Gai Behar Live in London (Young Turks week)

Creator Sharon Eyal, co-creator Gai Behar, music Koreless, Jamie xx
L-E-V
Bold Tendencies Peckham
to

There’s something of the religious ecstatic, of divine madness, in Sharon Eyal’s Ibiza rave style trance dance pieces—two tonight, twenty-five minutes each—on the top floors (7–10) of a concrete multi-storey car park run by Bold Tendencies in Peckham.

Late Sunday night and the local hipsters seem to be having a good time, though disappointingly few have the guts to join in (something Eyal seems to be encouraging), the dancers so intimidatingly carnivorous in their hypnotic hypermobile moves, threatening even in their incremental shifts.

With a skyline from Battersea to Greenwich glittering against a brooding sky behind them, standing several deep (no seating tonight) on three sides of the dancing space, like parents at their children’s sports event, eyeball to glassy eyeball with the eight dancers in scruffy shorts, vests and painted faces—I imagine them refugees from a Weimar cabaret—the crowd loves them.

The evening is sold-out, sharp elbows or shameless positioning de rigueur, I barely see the first piece: like a child I squint through a chink between the shoulders of vaping young men. What I do see and imagine are AI stone-faced robots parading, batteries charged by Koreless’s electronic spaced out music, or high-stepping Lipizzaner horses, or stoned catwalk models—on and on they go, OCD driven, they can’t stop. The power of the repetitive loop: isn’t that what the beat is for… the beat that mimics the heart.

Koreless and Jamie xx, of the Young Turks British independent record label (and management company), provide the sound for the two unnamed pieces. In the second piece to Jamie xx’s mix, the dancers, still hyper, still introverted and individualistic, seem looser limbed with happier facial expressions. Are they telling us stories with, and from deep within, their bodies? Eyal opens the second piece with a short signature solo for herself, and one sees where it is all coming from. I also manage to plant myself further forward.

Out of Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance stable, with his improvisational gaga dance vocabulary in her body’s DNA, Eyal dances from the heart (her company L-E-V means heart) and the gut: like Vicky Page in Red Shoes she has to dance, she can do no other—that much is visible—but she can and does create pulsating dance for her company of eight amazing dancers, with their random moves, gymnastic bodies and hyperextensions à la Wayne McGregor and Hofesh Shechter (another Naharin alumni) slouches, paroxysmal shudders and twitches.

Different body shapes, some with daddy long legs arms and legs, some stockier, but the moves, every joint seemingly articulated separately, and the stamina are those of true athletes. Tribal, primitive, they start in a cluster, an amoeba shifting shape, safety in numbers, then one peels away, then all cut free, one pirouettes and jetés, another does a body krump. They come together in a line dance, circle the perimeter—the beat goes on—and finally return to the collective.

Eyal, shouting from the sidelines like a football coach, encouraging, pushing her dancers to an impossible intensity, at the end comes on and makes a deep bow on her knees to her dancers, as well she might. This woman is nothing if not committed. Tonight she gives us a small glimpse of her own body in action—it’s as if she can’t resist—she wants the audience to feel, to experience in the body what being alive means. Responding to and inspired by music, she creates on herself, pares, edits, layers for the dancers.

Part of a month’s residency, the first commissioned by Bold Tendencies with support from Sadler’s Wells, National Youth Dance Company and the collaboration of Young Turks, I catch up in week three, the Young Turks collaboration week, having missed Parts of Love and the National Youth Dance Company in Used to Be Blonde (2018). It’s a word of mouth thing; there are no press nights as such. Week four promises a new site-specific work.

Will it bring a new young audience to her future shows at Sadler’s Wells where she is an associate artist? Having seen two of Eyal’s works there last year, tonight’s production in a more intimate space, though not an ideal space for watching dance, gives a clearer insight into what makes her tick, her visceral need to dance and create. Revealing her creative process to the public in open rehearsals as well, she invites us into the fold.

“I believe that when you search into something very deeply, the subject doesn’t have to be something new—the approach has to be new. How you present it and how you share it.”

“For me a movement is never the same. The beauty is that even when it looks the same or you think it’s the same it never is. It’s always something else.”

Reviewer: Vera Liber