Hofesh Shechter Company: Grand Finale
Shechter brings a true sense of grandeur to the stage every time. His works are massive in every sense, and he is fearless in his approach to making what has to be seen as theatre, the word dance alone simply does not suffice. There are constant themes in his work and this time this is certainly anguish and death, familiar threads to Shechter fans but this time perhaps more cohesively delivered.
Shechter has created his own vocabulary of dance movement, elements of traditional dance from his personal heritage pepper the whole but in Grand Finale they are balanced by moments of classicism and definitely with the exuberant and trance like movements of the rave scene – it’s a fascinating and compelling mix that keeps the audience on the edge of the seat. And his incredible corps are more than up to the task of this demanding form displaying a fluid physicality and musicality that is second to none. I particularly loved the odd and distressing corpse waltz danced to the harshly incongruous but strangely apt Merry Widow Waltz, Hofesh at his most wickedly playful, witty and disturbing best.
Musically Shechter is a maverick, mashing those classical sounds with electronica, driving it forward with the heavy beat of drums and never afraid to crash to a stunning silent halt. In fact stillness is as equally important in this work as the frantic excesses. The use of an on stage string and wind ensemble, miraculously shifting around the set, is magical and the harsh visual clash of their formal wear creates a stark contrast to the dancers whose drab informal wear sits well with their obvious plight.
As well as silence Shechter is not afraid of the dark, in every sense, the darkness of the story, and a strong narrative clearly emerges here, to the gloom of the lighting – darkness rules and works. I loved the shadowy effect of half light, the fact that so much is illuminated from behind that figures become shadowy faceless ghosts, anonymous and, dare I suggest it, valueless, by which I mean dismissed by that oppressive and here unseen force. Tom Visser, lighting designer, does this with great skill, ensuring that the total visual experience is seamless, the light and dark playing an equally important role to the music and the dance – not something that we often see.
Shechter certainly creates compelling and fascinating work, provocative, stirring and at times shocking – but never for the sake of shock alone. Death is never far away in this work but it has to be said that this is “dead good”!
Dome Concert Hall