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REVIEW: HOFESH SHECTER'S 'SUN'

 

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 21 FEBRUARY 2014 — Flooding theatres with incense and having spectators peer for their seats through a murky gloom seems to be the latest thing at the moment, but the added novelty at the Theatre de la Ville in January was the distribution of ear-plugs as one entered the auditorium. And while having fetid air thrust down one’s nostrils and irritating one’s eyes can be disagreeable, the handing out of ear-plugs brought a smile to most people’s faces, not all, for some looked ready to run, but the smiles that were there remained throughout the evening.

Israeli-born Hofesh Shechter is one of the most exciting choreographers working in Britain today, as his latest piece, Sun, demonstrated yet again. "We’re so excited. We want to give you the best experience possible, so we’ll show you the end first", Shechter announces at the beginning of the show, and so indeed, we are treated to seeing the end of his piece not once but twice. And unsurprisingly, it is the image of these 15 magnificent dancers in their elegant costumes of beige, taupe, cream, ivory, all the ‘shades’ of white one can imagine, all different and each  immensely attractive, that one carries away at the end of the evening.

There is a moment of calm as the show, properly speaking, ‘begins’,  with slow,  majestic music of Shechter’s own confection, and a group of dancers begin to move, perfectly synchronized. The décor, complementing the costumes, is simple and refined, with the stage surrounded by walls of grey and beige, superbly highlighted by some 80 to 100 lights hanging down from above.


Hofesh Shechter: Sun

The ensuing hour and a quarter, with perhaps the second half being just a shade too long , can only be described as  joyful, organized chaos, the dancers fairly bursting with energy as they reach ever upwards in a vertical frenzy. The work is packed with an ironic humour interspersed with underlying currents of pessimism. It’s both entertaining yet disquieting.

Hofesh Shechter has developed a language all of his own. His movements, extraordinary, strive for the unattainable and the dancers move with a fast, light, almost elfin quality. The piece is airy, buoyant, and fast-moving, and the audience left breathless is enjoying every minute, for nothing this evening, Shechter insists, is to be taken seriously.

The key to the inherent power in the show lies in the score, for Hofesh Shechter was first and foremost a musician, a drummer who studied percussion in Tel Aviv and Paris who began early on composing the music for his choreography. In this particular creation, the accompanying music, created alongside the movements and hence an integral part of the whole, is excruciatingly loud and deafening, contributing considerably to the changes in atmosphere with sudden silences followed by violent explosions of sound.

One of the highlights, however was a superbly choreographed sequence to Irving Berlin’s, "Let’s Face The Music And Dance", where the innovative steps and joy of dancing left an indelible imprint on one’s mind, and was in stark contrast to the disturbing images of the larger than life cut-outs of the sheep and the wolves. Schechter’s Sun, for all its apparent lightness, carries a considerable amount of tension alongside the moments of hilarity.

There was just an indefinable something which stopped this work from being one of the finest pieces seen around in Paris for some time.

Patricia Boccadoro is dance editor at Culturekiosque.com



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