Grand Finale: Hofesh Shechter Company
Choreography and music by Hofesh Shechter
I first saw a Hofesh Shechter Company production in 2014. It was ‘Sun’ and it was preceded by a discussion with the artist, where Shechter spoke of his personal history and also gave a strong impression of his creative and philosophical approach to dance. He emphasised that dance is a language devoid of many of the clever semantic tricks that can obscure communication by the spoken word.
Shechter’s work has an edge that cuts. It is politically conceptual rather than geo-political. He abhors totalitarianism, violence, waste; this distaste gleaned from the artist’s discussion in 2014 as well as his subsequent works. They are themes that dominate in Shechter’s works and are always portrayed with sadness and disgust.
So to ‘Grand Finale’, a work that is full of dead bodies and walls – quite literally. 'Grand Finale’ is a dance with death through the ages, that is a time warp of love, neglect, hate, destruction, then love all over again …
We are presented with this replay – from graceful to grotesque – as the ‘living’ dancers on stage dance with their loved ones, and continue even after those loved ones have their lives stolen; wrapping the limbs of their now deceased partners around themselves; twisting, turning, holding close and attempting to feel the presence of their loss.
A group of musicians on stage, seemingly oblivious to this ahistorical drama enacting round them, plays throughout the portrayed tragedies, not unlike those brave musicians who played-on as the Titanic sank (this allusion was definitely intended by Shechter).
The dancing of ‘Grand Finale’ is muscular and energetic, at times elegant and at times macabre – befitting of a dance with death.
The lighting by Tom Visser made the dancers faces frequently appear masked and the sets appear full of the dust and smoke of a war torn location, not unlike the sepia haze we have so recently been experiencing in many Australian locations.
The sets by Tom Scutt are simple and effective – huge blocks of walls, while the costumes – also by Scott – are the casual clothes that could be worn by members of our night’s audience as easily as most members of most communities anywhere in the world.
Always catch a work by Hofesh Shechter if you have the opportunity.
Sydney Opera House