Review of Air Hunger by Richard Smith-Morgan (December 2014)

Multi faceted, collaborative arts projects are notoriously difficult to manage. Sponsors’ interests can conflict, perspectives can differ with endless discussions about tone. But a recent world premiere – Hagit Yakira’s Air Hunger –  at the studios of Yorkshire Dance has, perhaps definitively, put paid to this myth.

Within the framework of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, a modernistic, audience feedback loop, we are shown artistic innovation from Leeds University seamlessly integrating with Breakfast Creatives’ digital design thinking in a choreographic marvel from Ms Yakira. Ms Yakira digs deep into human relationships, their essence, their tensions, their emotional range. With an MA in European Theatre Dance, she has taught throughout Europe and is currently undertaking a PhD in choreography from Trinity Laban.

With its genesis in our ambiguous addiction to oxygen, Air Hunger is a journey about breathing. Hagit obsessed with its multiple forms; an infant’s first breath, the dying exhaling, the ambigutities in holding one’s breath- ” these stories became my own heroin…”she recounted and “I was breathless for more”.

To the wonderful tones of Domenico Angarano’s haunting music, Sophie Arstall and Kiraly Saint Claire balletically transition across the dance floor. Their limbs intertwine, their bodies fuse together as inseparable as the two halves of a breath. Where Kirally leads, Sophie has followed her confidence in his movement complete. While the pace varied nicely, the intensity never waivered, the climatic conclusion very bold.

Despite unashamedly demanding choreography, it was a near faultless performance. The effect took the breath away, the audience spellbound, the dancers literally gasping for air. As they finally rest, we are like them, exhausted, our emotions quite battered and drained.

Hagit has constructed a brand new experience combining emotion and music and dance. Her choreography strips away all ambiguity laying bare the power of human emotion and offering, albeit briefly, a glimpse of our souls.

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