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Political Mother

Numeridanse 2010

Choreographer(s) : Shechter, Hofesh (Israel)

Present in collection(s): Numeridanse

Video producer : Sadler's Wells

en fr

Political Mother

Numeridanse 2010

Choreographer(s) : Shechter, Hofesh (Israel)

Present in collection(s): Numeridanse

Video producer : Sadler's Wells

en fr

Political Mother

Political Mother is much more complex in many respects; it tackles several subjects and layers of meaning and brings different worlds and realities onto the stage,” explains Shechter from the other end of the line, in a soft voice that contrasts with his energetic work. “The show comes together through the montage of these clashing worlds.” 

For the artist, dance is about energy and extremes: from darkness to over-exposed light, from throbbing harmonies to the unloading of sound, from liberating dance to the alienation of the masses. Furious and incarnate, the production alternates solos/duets and ensemble scenes in their fullest force. This is accompanied continually with bracing, even booming music, somewhere between dirty rock and Middle Eastern harmonies, which he composes himself in dialogue with the musicians who will perform it onstage.

“It's not a philosophical piece,” he warns, “it's dance, so it always comes down to energy – above all, that of the dancers who represent a group of enthusiastic fans or followers submitted to oppressive diktats.” These issues of power and emulation belong as much to the political arena as the family unit, which is where the title of the piece comes from. 'Political Mother' runs on the ambiguity of the feelings of love and hate, empathy and domination.

“It's interesting to experiment with differences and emotional links and exploring gestural, sound and musical material in relation to all this.”


Beyond the words

Shechter is primarily interested in what we can learn as humans from the raw languages of dance, music and stage performance. What is to be done when the tensions at work in the world do not follow any logic themselves? When we ask him if there is more rage than tenderness in his work, he indicates a desire for balance between the two. The ‘massive chaos’ in his piece is still very much that of a city crushed under the fire of AK-47s. The piece speaks of “destruction to help us focus on the bodies”.

His work nevertheless has nothing to do with war, except perhaps for the radical emotions it brings together and which bombard humans. That said, his native land is, after all, Israel; the centre of an unfathomable geopolitical rift. He also trained at Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance Company, which he still aligns himself with today.

His dance bears its mark, with the pronounced influence of Wim Vandekeybus (who he worked alongside at the Batsheva): physically powerful, tragic in its exultation, emanating from latent underlying socio-political preoccupations that are never manifested in a logical or literal way. Though there are a few fragments of text throughout 'Political Mother', he uses them only “as an echo”. 

The rise of Hofesh Shechter has been fast. Trained in dance and music in Israel, he arrived in London in 2002 after a time spent in Paris. He choreographed the duet 'Fragments' in 2004 at The Place theatre, where he became Associate Artist. It was immediately successful and was extended into a tour. He then choreographed 'Cult', followed by two pieces shown here in 2009. Here he is again, a handful of choreographies – and several tours – later. Are you ready for another electroshock?


Born...out of a drum loop.

What came first, the choreography or the music? Hofesh Shechter, familiar with both dance and percussion, might well answer both.

“The music very much defines the energy and structure of the piece; it is always strongly linked to the choreography,” he explains, insisting that in his piece 'Political Mother', the musicians are among the 'characters' onstage and contribute to the process of emotional provocation at play.

In the foreword to the press kit signed by Shechter, he explains his creative process in great detail – to-ing and fro-ing between the two arts – and emphasises his “passion for low frequencies”.

The work is born out of an initial drum loop – very freely inspired by a groove by Peter Gabriel – that is both obsessive and inexorable. This is amplified with Egyptian acoustics, followed by strings. All this is finally performed by a bassist, five drummer/guitarists and a percussionist.

Shechter, Hofesh

Choreographer Hofesh Shechter OBE is recognised as one of the most  exciting artists making stage work today, renowned for composing  atmospheric musical scores to compliment the unique physicality of his  movement. He is Artistic Director of the UK-based Hofesh Shechter  Company, formed in 2008. The company are resident at Brighton Dome and  Shechter is an Associate Artist of Sadler’s Wells.

Hofesh Shechter’s repertoire for the company includes Uprising (2006), In your rooms (2007), The Art of Not Looking Back (2009), Political Mother (2010), Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut (2011), Sun (2013), barbarians (2015), Grand Finale (2017), SHOW (2018) and POLITICAL MOTHER UNPLUGGED (2020). Grand Finale was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.

Shechter has also staged and choreographed works on leading  international dance companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance  Theater, Batsheva Ensemble, Candoco Dance Company, Cedar Lake  Contemporary Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, Paris Opera Ballet,  Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet Flanders.

He has choreographed for theatre, television and opera, notably at the Metropolitan Opera (New York) for Nico Mulhy’s Two Boys, the Royal Court on Motortown and The Arsonists, the National Theatre on Saint Joan and for the Channel 4 series Skins. As part of #HOFEST, a 4 week festival celebrating Shechter’s work across 4 iconic London venues, he co-directed Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice  with John Fulljames at the Royal Opera House. In 2016 he received a  Tony Award nomination for his choreography for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof.

In 2018 Hofesh Shechter was awarded an honorary OBE for Services to Dance and the company's first dance film, Hofesh Shechter’s Clowns, was broadcast by the BBC in September to great acclaim.

In 2020, Hofesh Shechter Company was named the winner of the Fedora – VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Prize for Ballet for LIGHT: Bach Dances, in collaboration with Royal Danish Opera and co-directed by Hofesh Shechter and John Fulljames.

Hofesh Shechter’s new creation Double Murder will premiere in 2021.

More information: hofesh.co.uk

Political Mother

Choreography : Hofesh Shechter

Interpretation : Maëva Berthelot, Winifred Burnet-Smith, Chien-Ming Chang, Katherine Cowie Christopher Evans, Bruno Karim Guillore, Philip Hulford, Jason jacobs, Sita Ostheimer Hannad Sheperd Musiciens : Yaron Engler (batterie, bendir), Joseph Ashwin (guitare), Joel Harries (guitare, batterie), Edward Hoare (guitare, batterie), Normam Jancowski (batterie, pandeiro), James Keane (batterie), Vincenzo Lamagna (guitare), Andrew Maddick (guitare) Joueurs de cordes (sur la bande sonore) : Christopher Allan (violoncelle), Rebekah Allan (alto), Laura Anstee (violoncelle), Nell Catchpole (alto), Tim Harries (contrebasse), Andrew Maddick (alto), Kai West (contrebasse) Interprète invité spécial : Leon Baugh Doublures Laura de Vos, Yeji Kim

Original music : Hofesh Shechter

Lights : Lee Curran

Costumes : Merle Hensel

Sound : Montage son : Tony Birch

Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Coproduction Biennale de la danse de Lyon, Théâtre de la Ville, Romaeuropa, Mercat de les Flors - Produit en collaboration : Theatre Royal (Plymouth) - Avec le soutien de : DanceXchange (Birmingham) - Commande du : Brighton Dome and Festival, Sadler's Wells Theatre (Angleterre), Movimentos, Festwochen der Autostadt (Wolfsburg, Allemagne)

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