Choreographer: Hofesh Shechter
Performers: Shechter II
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
Hofesh Shechter is definitely the man of the moment; his daring Grand Finale is touring Europe this summer, and, closer to home, he plans to fill the moat of The Tower of London with dancers in July as part of the LIFT Festival. Incredibly, he’s still got the time to revisit his groundbreaking piece, Clowns, bookended at the Lyric with two new short works, Entrance and Exit, and rebranded together as Show. And what a show it is.
Although he was born in Israel, Shechter now lives in Britain, and has been hailed as Britain’s hottest talent in dance. His style is memorably idiosyncratic, and his peculiarities are all on display tonight. First, as we enter the auditorium his trademark haze has settled over the stalls, which, with some tricky lighting from Lee Curran and Richard Godin, will later obscure the faces of the eight dancers for most of this 50-minute show. In fact, often the lights go off completely, leaving the stage and the audience in total darkness, and when the lights return the dancers hold still in tableaux. And, of course, we have his distinctive dance steps that punctuate the show: almost a tribal stomp, the dancers hunch and arch, their hands shaking with ecstasy or fear. Surely, the word Shechterianhas been coined for this movement?
To music Shechter has composed himself, Show is concerned with murder, despite the fact that the dancers are dressed vaguely as clowns, with a ruff here and there. These clowns perform a whole host of executions for our entertainment. Clowns are shot, garrotted, stabbed, and even, at one point, fried in an electric chair. It’s comic, but with what’s happening in the world today, also serious. It’s a glorious dance of death with elements of folk dance juxtaposed against Latin American beats. It shouldn’t wok, but it does.
The eight dancers give it their all, and it’s hard to believe that as Shechter II, they are the reserve team – the apprentices – of the main company, who, fresh from Grand Finale in Brighton this weekend, were all in the stalls supporting their stablemates. While it seems unfair to pick out one dancer, the facial expressions of Robinson Cassarino have the audience rooting for his survival in this orgy of killing. But often it’s impossible to know the dancer from the dance, as they move as one powerhouse unit.
Not everyone will like Shechter. Some critics will complain that his steps are too repetitive, or that his narratives are too expressionistic. ‘A waste of energy’ someone remarked leaving Grand Finale this weekend. And yet, it’s the energy that defines Shechter’s work. It celebrates youth and vitality, and despite its subject matter, it celebrates life. And for certain, not everyone will like the last piece, Exit, as the dancer-clowns leave the stage. Shechter pushes his luck here, and it’s wonderful to witness to his nerve.
Runs until 12 May 2018 | Gabriele Zucca