revew: Hofesh Shechter – Grand Finale
Hofesh Shechter Company/
designer Tom Scutt/
Hofesh Shechter is a dance company performing dances choreographed by Hofesh Shechter to music composed by Hofesh Shechter. He’s obviously got some good bloody hustle about him because I can’t for the life of me see what forces have brought Grand Finale into existence. His name appears twelve times on the A4 freesheet I get before the show begins. On his dance company’s website, he’s the only person in an artistic role which isn’t prefixed with ‘associate’ or ‘intern’. I only made these observations after I’d seen the show and found it boring and substanceless, but even in the abstract the sort of company model implied by one man’s name being plastered everywhere runs contrary to what I think theatre is for.
Auteurs are bad. I don’t know anything about dance but is it normal for a dance company to be run on this model? When there’s a singular creative vision the effect is like going out for a meal but not being able to order for yourself; we’re all having what daddy’s having – he really likes it.
its about nothing this is about nothing none of this is about anything
Apparently Hofesh Shechter choreographed a production of Fiddler on the Roof a few years ago. I’d much rather have seen that, I think. I like Fiddler on the Roof, has pathos and things happening and a coherent journey from one end to the other. And the songs are just bangers, tbh. Grand Finale I was flatlining from about twenty minutes in. I’m just glad it was so brief, tbh.
who on earth has been talking this up to me
My impression is there was about fifteen minutes worth of choreography, with seven minutes worth of musical ideas, spanning one hundred and fifteen minutes. The company shuffle onstage and adopt fixed positions as if portentous or ominous or meaning anything in relation to any of the other fixed positions Shechter has told them to adopt. Then some of them might start twitching or bopping or fucking skanking out of nowhere and it just looks stupid. I laughed the first few times, but it got less funny and more excruciating the longer it went on and repeated.
And the music, too, was unintresting and repetitive. The SAME damn 4/4 drum loop just kept coming back in and playing kind of loud but not even loud enough for me to need the earplugs given out at box office. If you’re gonna give us bloody earplugs please at least commit to having some volume of consequence.
Is it normal for dance to make no sense? Is that normal? Do people rock up to dance shows and be like ‘oh well there was no development of any of those movement ideas but yknow the dancers are fuckin athletes so fair play to them for being able to do all that stuff for such a long amount of time’. Why do people go see dance shows? Cos there were three standing ovations – there was a big chunk of the audience who were fucking loving it so maybe other dance shows are worse? Was this show a groundbreaking breath of fresh air?
The elements of the show I found most tedious seem to be the ones Hofesh Shechter himself is credited for. Maybe I’d have liked a show which he was involved with, but where he actually worked with other people on his Choreography and Score and Music. My headcanon is that there are no ‘bad’ makers of work, only bad power structures and rehearsal/devising processes. Even Hofesh Shechter, in a non-heirarchical process, where multiple people are doing the work of mediating the dynamic of the group and the whole translates itself into an outward performance, might make a piece of work beautiful and breaking.
Do acknowledge, please, that the show left me feeling so little I feel compelled to speculate about the organisational structures of contemporary dance, to pad out my review.
please fucking end
The design was working really fucking hard. When the premise of the show is a long display of listless moping, repeated, it’s a wonder the set was able to communicate any images at all. If you like, the obelisk-esque piles being wheeled weightlessly about the stage are modules of a border wall – Palestine’s fence or Trump’s Mexico wall. The images I saw that were actually entertaining were courtesy of this design. The dance seemed to just happen to occupy spaces onstage in relation to the design. Any connections felt serendipitous (read: ‘accidental’) until the heavy-handed pinning-in which happens at the very end. And then we get to see a man and a woman snog so whoop-de-doo the straights perservere.
I was just bored and thought the thing was load of drivel.
At some point, someone has made the decision to use the words ‘part gig’ to describe this show. Which is a laugh.
Do also note that there is certainly a more robust analysis you might make of the processes through which this work was created, is platformed, supported and applauded, but the work itself took my energy and will from me. Maybe work that sets a real fire under the arses of its fans at the same time as exhausting its detractors is the most successful work of all.