Hofesh Shechter Company Aesthetic Permeates  In Good Company

United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Various composers, In Good Company, Hofesh Shechter Company, The Place, 06.06.2014 (J.O’D) 

Dissimilar Foxes
Performers:Merel Lammers, Attila Ronai
Musicians:Adrien Casalis, Sita Ostheimer
Composer: Adrien Casalis

Doppel!  A film by Leila Ziu and Maëva Berthelot
Produced by: Maëva Berthelot, Leila Ziu and Hofesh Shechter Company
Camera: Baltazar Peña Ríos, Mauricio Arechavala and Leila Ziu
Music and Sound:Claudio Miguel

What If Dog Was One Of Us?
Performer: Diogo Sousa
Writer/Narrator: Chris Evans

Performers: Frédéric Despierre, Philip Hulford, Kim Kohlmann, Sita Ostheimer
Music arranged by Sam Coren, featuring Alberto Ruiz and the Stars of the Lid
Designer: Kaspar Hansen
Costume Maker: Sophie Bellin

Performers: Kim Kohlmann, Aimée LaGrange
Costume and Set Designer:  Sam Wood

Performers:   Philip Hulford, Merel Lammers
Sound design:The Artist www.thisistheartist.com
Sound composition:   Bruno Guillore
Designer: Kaspar Hansen
Costume maker: Sophie Hansen


Like English National Ballet with its Choreographics and The Royal Ballet with its Draft Works, the Hofesh Shechter Company has for the past two years presented a selection of work choreographed by dancers of the company. Unlike Choreographics and Draft Works, the evening had no theme, unless it was that of the conflict by which Hofesh Shechter has said in interviews that his own experience has been marked. From what I have seen of its other work (Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut; Sun) there was a Hofesh Shechter Company aesthetic to all the pieces (with the exception perhaps of Maëva Berthelot’s film, Doppel!). This takes the form of a pervading, background darkness, with light shining through it at floor level and from the side; an intentional lack of colour (bright colour, definitely) in the costumes, which are often loose or baggy; a shaking, jerking, jigging quality to the movement that is contrary to the idea of dance as something that ‘flows’; dreadlocks or topknots on most of the male dancers; and when there is humour, a rather cynical sense of it. All of these things are suggested, before the evening starts, by the photograph on the flyer. It shows the six, unsmiling dancer-choreographers (three women, three men) lined up in a ‘usual suspects’ kind of way, their shadows looming high on the wall behind them. (Maëva Berthelot leans forward in a deep bow that obscures her face completely.)

There were no introductory videos or talks, no explanations of what the dance is ‘about’ or what inspired it. There was no post-show talk. The work is left to speak for itself. The audience is left to make up its own mind about the running and falling of the two dancers in Sita Ostheimer’s Dissimilar Foxes (the man moves like an animated scarecrow); about the female figure who proceeds in a hallucinatory, jump-cut way from forest-clearing to South American city street (through the back of a meat store) in Maëva Berthelot and Leila Liu’s sharply edited and disconcerting Doppel!; about Frédéric Despierre’s cynically humorous What If Dog Was One Of Us?, which examines aspects of creation and performance that an audience usually takes for granted. (‘What got you into this, Diogo?’ the disembodied voice of ‘the writer’ asks the solo dancer, Diogo Sousa. ‘Was it the word ‘solo’?); about the four figures raising and lowering illuminated balloons in Sam Coren’s enigmatic, elaborately staged, but ultimately flawed Gully; about the symbiotic relationship between the two female dancers in Kim Kohlmann’s powerfully choreographed, powerfully danced Skinship; and, finally, about the crouching, dimly perceived pair of noisily mating creatures in Bruno Guillore’s somehow less powerful Pandemonium.

John O’Dwyer


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