Where the Boys Are

Yotam Peled & the Free Radicals

Martial art operates from a place deep inside the mind, yet with a physicality that extends through every inch of the body. Choreographer Yotam Peled and performers Nicolas Knipping and Andrius Nekrasoff work hard to convey this, imbuing Where The Boys Are with both cerebral and corporeal intent. The moments of stillness suggest an inner torrent, only partially unleashed when the two men lock limbs or bump chests. Arms swinging windmill-like, they create a soundscape with their mouths, briefly burying a long opening silence. 

When we eventually hear spoken word and music, the piece shifts in momentum and engagement. A burst of athletic movement and invitation to hear, and therefore connect with, the performers is all too brief. Meaning the pathway to emotional involvement, needed to reap the benefits of a closing clinch, lacks paving stones. Had this work been created solely for adults, we could potentially build our own route. But for younger viewers, there are just too few hooks to draw them in.

Kelly Apter

In a crowded school gym, with the potent smell of chalk and embarrassment filling the air, Where the Boys Are explores martial arts as a freeing channel for male violence.

Opening with a recognisable ‘warm up’, the piece transitions into a convincing sequence of unison. Arms windmill and strike the body, creating rhythmic sounds accompanied by the recognisable boxing ‘hiss’ of controlled breathing. What the performers are preparing for is not quite a fight, but definitely a struggle – for self-control, for closeness, for release. 

There are fleeting moments of playfulness, of tapping on a hardened male exterior, but tonally, the work feels too serious for a 13+ audience. The tension created by the athletic clinches slides into homoeroticism, especially in the final tumbleweed of limbs that hide the faces of the performers, expressing a strange and unified body.

While Where the Boys Are wrestles effectively with male frustration, connection and violence, it fails to grasp its intended younger audience’s attention.

Hannah Finnimore

Girls come from Venus and boys from … the gymnasium? 

Where the Boys Are by Yotam Peled & the Free Radicals could have celebrated the sensuality of the body in sport. But here we are, in a gymnasium that bears the scent of decades of trivial physical education, quite removed from the values of mutual aid, respect and self-control that emanate from the practice of martial arts.

So we find the two male performers engaged in a kind of pantomime of a training session, made up of body rhythms, attempts at imitation, and at times a form of domination, that invites us to rethink how masculinity is represented.  

Faced with this proposal for young audience, I can only refer to the target group of teenage girls who looked bored or at least indifferent, almost dubious in the face of a proposition that depicts the trials and tribulations of a male duo in self-centred reflection.

Where those boys are, my true love may not be.

Robin Lamothe

‘Where the Boys Are’ by Yotem Peled and the Free Radicals is a tapestry of movement and emotion that unfolds in a school gymnasium. The piece combines the fluidity of dance with the discipline of martial arts, arousing the audience’s curiosity and creating a dynamic atmosphere.

Each movement, steeped in symbolism, reveals layers of human experience that delve into themes of masculinity, vulnerability, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships. The performers strike a delicate balance between aggression and tenderness, drawing the audience into an exploration of the human psyche through subtle storytelling and evocative imagery.

The performance begins in silence and is gradually accompanied by the percussive rhythm of body blows and text that describes the dancers’ thoughts and feelings. As the work seems therapeutic for the dancers, it raises the question of what the point is for the young audience the piece was created for.

Fatemeh Esmaeilghorbaninejad