★★★★ Review of Show by Shechter II: Hofesh Shechter Company
Hofesh Shechter’s Show, is a nightmarish reinvention of contemporary dance characterised by the haunting, yet sublime movement of Shechter’s murderous clowns.
Performing at Brighton Dome for one night only, Shechter II, Hofesh Shechter’s critically acclaimed apprentice company, took to the stage on 6th November 2018. From curtain up, I was stunned by the peculiar atmosphere created within a microcosmic stage of a disillusioned circus, it was easy to forget Shechter’s exhausting, choreographed labour was commodified as a mode of theatrical performance.
The movement was natural, mesmerising, and at times scarily hypnotic when accompanied with the composition of haunting beats and rapturous music. It is understandable why the Shechter experience is incomparable to any other theatrical situation. It is unique, unforgettable, and oddly addictive, the 8 strong company devouring every inch of the stage and leaving the audience salivating for more.
‘Those haunting jazz hands’
Show opens with a thick haze engulfing the stage and much of the first rows of audience, the glow of footlights slowly revealing eight silhouettes, dressed in baroque-style ruffles and peculiar clown costuming. As the dancers begin a murderous trajectory, slashing throats and aiming shots with imaginary firearms the performance unravels as a macabre, and sometimes comedic circus.
Repetition of movement is a recurrent motif in much of Shechter’s choreography, aligning his mode of performance with the repetitive nature of daily life. Though some may argue this lacks inspiration, driving his arguably ‘odd’ style into the dust, I would say his conscious repetitive choice is a stroke of genius. Those haunting jazz hands that appear frequently when the killer clowns strike, are a constant reminder that Shechter’s satirical style has reinvented expectations of contemporary dance. The twinkling fingers scream moments of classical jazz, then disappear into the shadows as if the involuntary twitch of the hands are swallowed by the macabre reality of Show.
In the early 19th Century, it was a form of entertainment to indulge in public execution. Nearly two centuries later, there is some method in the madness of creating a dance theatre that relishes on the act of homicide, as the audience erupted in applause as the company bowed, some even standing from their seats. Shechter’s folk inspired movements, liquid-like ensemble work and chilling choreography of killing manifested into a cyclic solidification of time.
All eight dancers left the stage at Exit exhausted, the company visibly grateful at the cheers and applause filling Brighton Dome’s auditorium. Yet the review would not be complete without a mention of commendation to Riley Wolf. Though the dancers have no established individual roles, his embodiment of character and alluring gaze was highly commendable, and often difficult to take my eyes off. All eight members of Shechter II deserve acknowledgment, their creation of palpable tension and hypnotic circus fantasy on stage left a psychotic imprint as the curtains finally close.
Featured image: Rahi Rezvani