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How often do you see something of the moment, at the edge of hipness, which also has substance, is obviously the product of a serious creative process and stays with you beyond the performance? Not often, I presume, so when it happens, it is something of which to take note. Israeli-born Hofesh Shechter is still a new kid on the choreographic block, but he can already pull in a crowd and please them. And he does so with works of substance.
Uprising (2005) already has the patina of a classic. It is in essence a paean to those most misunderstood of modern creatures, men – a 25-minute, seven-male-dancer work, it touches on many facets of manhood: the group mentality, the outsider, the moments of loneliness, the need for physical contact cloaked in heartiness or violence and the sometimes barely veiled homo-eroticism. Thrillingly executed (Christopher Evans in particular stood out), it is an original fusion of street dance, synchronised and syncopated movement and even simian floor work, the dancers becoming living enactments of ape’s evolution to man.
In Your Rooms is a longer, more uneven piece that sets out to represent the tensions between chaos and order in our lives; the effect of dislocation comes with light, music and movement fracturing unpredictably throughout. It has been seen as existentialist, but there are too many examples of the dancers flinching at the touch of an unseen hand, too many pleading gestures to the sky for there not to be the impression of a higher power – it ends, after all, with a muezzin’s call to prayer. Again, the cast were fully absorbed in Shechter’s exhausting dance idiom and delivered a performance of deep intensity.
The lighting, stagecraft and musical soundscapes were superb but most striking was Shechter’s confident use of that large stage; I suspect that we will be seeing much more of him and his work.