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Hofesh Shechter: Untitled

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Choreographer and Director: Hofesh Shechter

Hofesh Shechter can do no wrong, and this short piece, performed live over Zoom, seven more times over the next two days is not to be missed. Haunting, and intimate, Untitled employs some smart technology to ensure that the viewers at home become part of the show. However, filled with our virtual presences, never has a room seemed so desolate.

As the dance begins, the 90 or so viewers are encouraged to keep their cameras on, and it’s highly recommended that you do. Our live images then adorn the walls of the performance space on the stage of London’s Lantern Studio Theatre. Before we notice the dancer, Rachel Fallon, perhaps we notice ourselves first and then others, whose eyes light up when they catch themselves on screen. One couple, wearing face masks, appear to be watching from a London bus, a sign that these performances should be seen as a cultural event akin to the Hofesh Shechter Company dancing at Sadler’s Wells.

Shechter introduces himself over the shimmering electronic sounds that he has composed. But his voice is eerie, and ominous, and the way he announces that he will guide us through the piece suggests that he won’t do that at all. When he presents the dancer, he claims ownership: ‘This is my dancer Elisabetta.’ In this meta move, the Shechter here is a character.

The first two sections of this 10-minute dance (though installation might be a better word) are called Love and Life, but both seem full of grief for Fallon as she writhes on the floor or sprints inside the chamber. The cameraman surely must be dancing too?There are glimpses of the Shechterian stomp, the tribal steps that feature in most of the Israeli-born choreographer’s shows, but whether this move is jubilant or angry is always hard to discern. The last section is called Death, and it might just knock you for six.

Untitled, as its notes suggest, is about intimacy and fragility. Of life, yes, but also as most theatres’ doors remain closed, of live performance as well. Cleverly and mournfully Shechter has created an experience that involves us in such a way that we become only more acutely aware of what we are missing. A devastating examination on physical and cultural death.

Runs here until 25 September 2020


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