Gigs, dance, art

September 25th, 2010: Hofesh Schechter – Political Mother

@théatre de la ville

That was my second time seeing Hofesh Schechter‘s work, but I’m already a fan. There are things I don’t like so much in what he does — the pomo attitude can get a bit overwhelming — but there are so many things I love, and I get a sense of something developing and growing, something that is rooted in the present and getting to shape a possible future of dance. Not by being something radically new, but by striking a nice balance between new and old. I don’t know what will come out of it in the long run, but I’m very keen on seeing where it ends up going.

On the pure dance side, he’s just as talented as I thought for group sections. The way subgroups emerge and melt back into other patterns was proof of an amazing mastery of one the things I like best in dance. I’m seriously impressed. I’d like him to combine that with a little more individuality from the dancers, but that may come later. For all I know it’s there already, maybe I just need more time to pick up those details. Of course it’s likely to be there in the latter sense, but what I’d love would be to see that side brought on by the choreographer, intentionally, not just by his accepting the dancers’ contributions. I hope this grows, and I hope I can see this — or something else — make its way into his language.

Again there were a few quotes from earlier works — and I’ve only seen Uprising and In Your Rooms, so it had to have been obvious — and a few sequences that went a little too far on the pomo side for me. The rock concert, political rally or empty stage parts felt a little too isolated, a little too smart. Maybe I missed what tied these into the piece though, I may have grown over-sensitive to post-modern poses.

I want to single out Lee Curran for the lighting. Amazing job, maybe even more striking than last year. The lighting was at least as much a component as the music, and was at least an extra dancer or two on its own. I think the live music was designed to grab attention, even though the few moments of silence or sudden change outlined that dance was really what it was all about. I liked that. A lot. The music was driven and definitely no wallpaper, but it knew its place as support. Not that that means it has to be boring, but it shouldn’t become a distraction either.

Here’s hoping Hofesh Schechter will become a regular in this venue, because I’m so hooked by now. The most addictive thing in his work is that I get the sense the best is yet to come. He seems very — maybe overly — aware of what he’s building, but the good side is that he seems to be building something anyway, and that would be a great sign on its own. Coming from someone who clearly have been fed the pomo kool-aid, it’s even more promising.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment

February 17th, 2010: Hofesh Shechter – Uprising / In your rooms

@théatre de la ville

Seeing for the first time work from a choreographer I had never heard of but really like is a great feeling. Hofesh Shechter brought that to me, and I hope he’ll become a regular over here. Especially because even with this small sample size, there were already hints that he’s building something. In your rooms quoted movements from the slightly earlier Uprising, and in a way that made clear it was intentional. There might have been a little too much post-modern distance, but it was nicely rendered harmless by the physical engagement and the drumming. Not exactly a promising choreographer, he’s already delivering on those promises.

Uprising started a little too close to expectations with its aggressive interactions, but that went away in a hurry. There were a few striking individual moments, like the guy running with his arms outstretched but bent a little — that was used again in the other piece — but what I liked best were the group dynamics. Groups would form, split or meld seamlessly for most of the show, but each dancer kept a separate identity and that made the groups morph along. The way dancers crossed the stage, often in a sliding crouch, gave a sense of getting a glimpse of a bigger world, and doing that with such simple tools impressed me a lot. Another favorite moment involved shoulder movements on a lighted line in front of the stage.

The lighting was really good in the first piece, but it was even better in In your rooms, a crucial part indeed, and Lee Curran deserves a shout out. The light brought groups in and out of view, again giving a sense of snapshots of something wider going on, because they were already in motion and didn’t stop before disappearing. At first there was a screen in front that enhanced the effect, but it did work just as well without it. That feeling was made possible by the dance itself, which used a lot of repetitive back-and-forth elements, or longer term cycles, in both cases it was easy to imagine this going on both before and after. At times the whole stage would come into view, usually for bigger groups that also displayed Shechter’s mastery of those. All those dancers would only rarely be doing the same thing, and most of that seemed to be setting up the subgroups splitting into variants, with a fluid membership that didn’t break the rhythms at all, adding another dimension to it as the overall distribution of movement evolved. In contrast to the first piece, the dancers were much more interchangeable parts here, but that didn’t hurt because it was consistent with the off-on-off lighting. The individuality did come through, but over the long run, in a subdued way. Maybe as proof that there was no set boundary, there was also a full lights on part with a dancer drawing a line across the stage, then others stepping on the stage then retreating. Still that off-on-off thing though.

There’s so much more to these, and I already wish I could see In your rooms again because I’m sure I missed a lot. This one feels like a statement to me, and maybe I can look forward to him revisiting it in the future. In the meantime, I’m eager to see more of his work, hopefully next year.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Dance | , | Leave a comment