A Splash of Hofesh

Wednesday eve 13th Sep 2017 – Sadler’s Wells. Again.

Hofesh Shechter sitting in front of me for the Grand Finale – his latest piece.
First part… – didn’t know what to make of the story, as it seemed either the palestinians rejoicing how they can in spite of suffering and dying , or the disruptive life of immigrants traveling the vain of hopes of the world, or the jews crossing the desert. The symbol of the ominous Wall weighing on you at almost every step.

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Turns out it is indeed an apocalyptic discharge all over the piece. With no particular event or political message in view. Just a statement about living with death, with the mix of heightened emotional charge, distress containment and desperation while still experiencing joy, and burning your whole energy in it.
The music (all or most of it made by Hofesh) – a mix of suave and bang on loud. Very good! A live camera band plus background tapes. Interlocked or overlapped streams of abstraction and middle eastern traditional. (no rock this time!). Makes you wanna buy the soundtrack! (I had the shazam urge several times through the show).
Lights, sometimes stark and angular, cast in “egyptian” shapes, some other times in forests of lost miracles. Or beams of God that gives no respite but elicits so much hope. Even he is mesmerized at how much desire to live and love is in the desperation of people.
But to me it seems like a piece of my own writing. The way I would tell you a story. You’d be so fascinated by the details and thrilled about fragments of it. Distraught about others, tensed or frightened sometimes, you’d lose the narrative. If there was one at all…
He says he wanted to depoliticize the Wall
symbol. I believe he didn’t really manage. As they are there like huge slabs of the Berlin one. Almost identical in shape and sadness. They divide, they isolate, they bear on your shoulders. Like upright dead bodies. And you hug them, you shift them, you play and live between them like between half living corpses. Yes, bodies! A recurring image as dancers jump and twist with ecstatic denouement then die. People dragging their loved ones around like precious bags of memories. Very touching but sometimes hard to watch; …emotionally.

Found myself thinking of Crystal Pite and her “Flight Pattern” seen in ROH earlier this year – by far the best piece of dance I’ve seen in 2017 till now. There she also put out what she felt about the world we live in now, with all this population displacement and suffering. Partly similar to what he wanted to express (as he explained in the Q&A after). But found a lot more consistency and structure in her work. While Hofesh is often a whirl of twists and provocation. Jumping to all extremes available. Crystal kept her energy more specifically focused on a particular range of feelings.
Still, Grand Finale was a piece I enjoyed. Especially the second part when I got more used with the concept. Though often felt like a record left on repeat, repeat, repeat.

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