Ofir Yudilevitch is one of the rising stars in Israel’s dance scene. As a freelance dancer, he has toured the world with leading companies and has recently started to turn his focus to choreography. His first major dance piece is Gravitas which comes to Bell Square on Saturday 3 August.
Unusually, Ofir did not study dance from a young age. Instead, at 15, he started Capoeira, a martial artform developed by African slaves in Brazil which combines self-defence, acrobatics, dance, music and song. He studied it extensively for 10 years, first in Israel and then in Brazil. In his early 20’s, he was an instructor of both Capoeira and acrobatics.
Then, when he was 24, he started studying contemporary dance back in Israel at the Professional Dance School in Haifa. After graduating, he quickly established himself as a professional dancer, working with some of Israel’s top dance companies and on international projects in Europe and the US.
In his early 30’s, like many successful dancers, the lure of creating his own dance works took hold and he started early forays into choreography alongside his regular performance. He worked on several small dance shows for different festivals, before creating his first large scale performance in 2015. This was Gravitas - which has toured internationally ever since and which we will see at Bell Square on 3 August.
In his own dance pieces, Ofir incorporates extreme physicality and it is easy to see that much of this comes from his background in Capoeira and acrobatics. He stretches himself and his fellow performers physically to the limit, yet still connects with the audience on an emotional and human level.
Ofir also stretches the boundaries of what some people may think of as dance. It has a style that is very acrobatic, very strong, physical and powerful.
In his first substantial piece, Gravitas, he focuses on gravity, one of the most basic and powerful forces in nature. Gravity acts upon each and every one of us, and upon every physical object, in exactly the same way. It doesn’t care if we land or crash, it will remain the same. And Ofir’s piece explores how far the 2 performers can push their bodies, how far they can push the force of gravity.
They compete with each other, pushing each other, as they test their speed, balance and strength. And they do this on a giant, air-filled mattress which brings a whole extra dimension to their movement. Falling, crashing and jumping take centre stage as the 2 men hurtle through the air and rebound spectacularly off the mat. Mischief often pervades the display, however, as they knock each other out of headstands, jostle for the best spot on the mat, and compete for the audience’s love as each tries to do the best back flip!
Underneath it all, the show is about male relationships. Two men challenging each other, reminiscent of boisterous, boyish play and still driven by a competitive spirit as they test the limits of trust, danger, risk and masculinity – and ultimately their friendship.
Come and see Gravitas on Saturday 3 August at Bell Square. It’s on at 3.00pm and again at 5.00pm.
And let us know what you think, using #BellSquareLDN
You have also told us previously that you would like to be able to look up more information about the artists and follow them on social media:
You can follow Ofir on Facebook @Ofir-Yudilevitch-Dance-Artist