Hofesh Shechter: Grand Finale

*****

What a privilege it is to be in the Sadler’s Wells audience to see the work of this great choreographer and composer at the height of his powers.

With Hofesh Shechter’s usual dark wit, “Grand Finale” refers ironically of course to classical convention, of which this may or may not be an extension, depending on your reading. More literally, it refers to the theme of the work: the annihilation towards which we are driving ourselves – and have always done.

The evening is in two parts. In the first, we are with the most ancient part of our collective selves, at war with each other, connecting, killing, dying, grieving. In the second part, we have acquired individuality and personality, have acquired something which may be called the signs of civilisation. Yet the brutal impulses remain along with the new knowledge of love, art, nationality and alienation.

Throughout, the contradictory fragility, mobility and mortality of human creatures is contrasted with the sets. These are huge, dark, monoliths that move of their own accord and watch over the action. In the second part of the work, we glimpse now and then the intervention of people in the arrangement of the monoliths but the individual’s influence is paltry in comparison to the power of the imperturbable force. Its towers sometimes transform into walls that close in and isolate the individual from the crowd.

Perhaps this is altogether Shechter’s most beautiful work. Or does one say that every time he comes up with a new production? The ten magnificent dancers can work as a single living creature. They can turn as one on a precise drum beat, then splinter into fragments, combine and dissolve into new configurations. The sets and costumes by Tom Scott and lighting by Tom Visser create sculptural contrasts between the pliability of the mere mortals and the inscrutable towers looming over them.

There is Shecher’s hallmark music: driving drum-rock-electronic combinations – and this time, add a chamber orchestra on stage. It being Shechter, you still need your ear-plugs unless you enjoy having your brain incinerated.

His dancers work with the precision of the finest ballet dancers but aside from an occasional send-up of the balletic convention, we are in the realm of tribal dance of his own imagining. The movement thrusts through the body, stomps into the ground, pushes out though jabbing fingers, beats back into the heart.

The title “Grand Finale” for this latest piece has nothing to do with the soaring arc of Shechter’s career which always seems to be beginning anew.

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Dancers: Chien-Ming Chang, Frédéric Despierre, Rachel Fallon, Mickael Frappat, Yeji Kim, Kim Kohlmann, Erion Kruja, Merel Lammers, Attila Ronai, Diogo Sousa.

Musicians: James Adams, Chris Allan, Rebekah Allan, Mehdi Ganjvar, Sabio Janiak and Desmond Neysmith.

Sadler’s Wells première: 12 September 2017

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Primrose MacFay

Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_3.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_4.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_5.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_6.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_7.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_1.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_3.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_4.
Grand Finale ©Rahi Rezvani 2017 Paris_5.

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