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Hofesh Shechter

Name: Hofesh Shechter

Date of Birth: 3rd May 1975

Place of Birth: Jerusalem, Israel

Age: 44

Occupation: Dancer, choreographer,


Musician/composer, Theatre director

Early life
 At the age of 6 began to study piano
 Later at age of 12, found love for folk dance
 Successfully auditioned for Jerusalem academy of music & dance as a pianist at age of 12 but switched to
dance upon arrival
 Took formal ballet class and modern class
 Whilst training as dancer he was conscripted into the Israel defence forces on his 18th
Birthday (described experience as ‘an electrical short circuit in my brain’)
 Midway through training (compulsory of 3 years) he moved to Tel Aviv and was accepted as a junior into the
‘Batsheva Dance Company’
 Whilst there he completed his army duty with an evening clerical job and trained at Batsheva by day

Career
 Graduated at Batsheva, joining main company
 Danced in works choreographed by Ohad Naharin, Wim Vandekeybus amongst others
 Alongside dance he also studied percussion
 After 3 years he left the company to play the drums for a rock band called ‘The Human Beings’ and study
music in Paris
 In 2002, he moved to London to perform with the Jasmine Vardimon Company creating a dance production
called ‘Fragments’. He also composed music for this production
 In 2004 he was commissioned The Place Prize to create ‘Cult’ which ended up winning an ‘Audience Choice
Award’
 Awarded OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honour’s

Batsheva Dance Company


 Founded in 1964 by Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild
 Martha graham as first Artistic Director
 Company of Contemporary Dance
 Residence at Suzanne Delial Centre in Tel Aviv since 1989
 Artist Director, Ohad Naharin was there as Hofesh studied and has now stepped down to house
choreographer
 Hofesh Shechter’s place of study for 3 years

Info from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofesh_Shechter

The Hofesh Shechter Company


Quotes:
“We’re in the business of inspiring people. I want to change lives, like my life was changed.”

“We celebrate and inspire the freedom of the human spirit through dance.”
“We travel the world with our exceptional tribe of dancers, breaking boundaries and releasing the visceral power
that lies beyond the conscious mind.”

“We believe that dance has the ability to prod, poke and tap into our deepest emotions; a part of ourselves that we
rarely access in modern life.”

“We dance to know what it feels like not just to live, but to be alive.”

“In all our work, we strive to move ourselves, and our audiences, beyond reason.”

““I want audiences to be awakened, to experience my work from the gut. Trusting the gut is to me like trusting
nature, or God, or a sense of purpose; a source, a spark. Trusting a higher and better force than our limited
oppressed cultured minds.”

Artistic vision
 Language of the people
 Not just for professional eyes
 Portraying something raw/real
 Outer oppression and pressure but its ultimate victory of hope
 Tensions between collective and individual
 Control and abandonment of control
 Dancers are themselves on stage without pretence
 Cutting through layers of artifice to reveal things for what they really are, the raw truth
 Revealing the truth of the pathetic and beautiful human existence
 Make people aware, awake
 Understand the power to change
 Commandership of battles in life
 Victory of spirit through perseverance
 Music an essential part of work “it is its beating heart, its fuel”
Creates space and atmosphere, timelessness
 Multi-layered cinematic soundtracks, often live
 Live band infusing life, danger and edginess
 Work highly cinematic, moving and flowing focus between tribal moments filling the stage to intimate
private scenes
 Individual emotion/character
 Tension of social existence and the craving for freedom
 Wants people to experience work in larger spaces, seeing the power of a communal experience,
connecting/amplifying senses
 Learning about ourselves and inspiring each other

Hofesh Shechter is a choreographer of tremendous work, mostly based on themes of war, zoomorphism and
male/female presents. Personally, I find his work interesting but bizarre, using inhuman, unique movement and aural
settings in his work. I respect him for his confidence to broadcast his unique style in the public eye, inspiring others
with the dynamic and meaningful performances. Every performance is different, and his own with very aural setting
carrying a meaning but not so much a narrative. I love the multiple interpretations you can draw from them, making
it a different experience to each and every person who witnesses his creations.

Major Works
 Fragments (2003)
 Cult (2004)
 Uprising (2006)
 In your rooms (2007)
 The art of not looking back (2009)
 Political Mother (2010)
 Survivor (2012)
 Sun (2013)
 Political mother (‘Choreographers cut’ 2014)
 Untouchable (The Royal Ballet 2015)
 Orphe et Eurydice (2015)
 Barbarians (2015)
 Clowns (2016)
 Fidler on the roof (2016)
 Grand finale (2017)
 Show (2018)

Info from https://www.hofesh.co.uk/

General Themes in Hofesh’s Movement Language


Considering key elements in Hofesh’s movement vocabulary is useful to understand his approach and
attitude which are reflected in his pieces.
Energy & Emotion
“The movement is born from the inside out, we connect to the sensation, concentrating on the feeling
more than on any other technical or even physical aspect. The emphasis should be on energy and emotion
rather than shape.” Hofesh
Improvisation is a useful tool, to connect to the energy and emotion of your own movement. It is a key
component in Hofesh’s creative process, and the company use it to warm up. Being comfortable
improvising can take time and patience. Having the confidence to go with your energy – in response to the
music, and to others in the room. It is a skill that comes with practice, breathing and letting go.
Totality
“Totality means that every instruction you give to your body will be applied to the whole of it. Totality is
what makes us simple as dancers. Use images as tools to find this sensation of totality - dancing in
water/honey, strings connecting our extremities, dancing inside a stretchy bubble, dancing in total silence,
or dancing continuously.” Hofesh
The notion of your whole-body being fluid and connected is an idea that he uses. Hofesh’s imagery often
suggests moving through honey, thick treacle, or water to find this quality in your own body. Paying
attention to your hands, which are often forgotten. Opening your palms as you move, have an awareness
of your skin, your back, the soles of your feet. Trying to move for 2 minutes continuously and quietly inside
an imaginary bubble full of water to feel totality throughout your body. He Applies this sensation to your
solo material.
“Hofesh Shechter’s latest work detonates on stage in a scattershot of shattering political imagery...
Shechter has created a work of galvanising challenging power…” Judith Mackrell, The Guardian
Groove & Rhythm

“The urge to move to music is essential to developing our musicality as dancers. ‘Feeling the groove’ is
finding the most natural, harmonious and positive way of moving - movement that is led not by order or by
force, but by pleasure and enjoyment. Always come back to the simplicity of connecting to the groove and
the music if you get lost... it means you are re-connecting to your body’s instincts.” Hofesh

This is a great starting point; you can see how the extract in this film is driven by Hofesh’s music
composition. He Finds some good pulsing music that instinctively makes you want to move. A consistent
rhythm that builds is what you aim for. Seeing what happens when you allow your body to be driven by the
music, when it’s nice and loud, and you let yourself be guided by your physical instincts. Seeing what
movement, you come up with intuitively and then developing it.

Floorwork

“It is extremely natural for me to go down to the floor when creating movement material. I find that every
second or third movement I come up with whilst creating will take me down to the floor. Fluidity is a huge
helping factor in floor work. It means that you are naturally finding a way in and out of the floor,
concentrating on the continuity of the movement therefore not seeing the floor as an obstacle, but as a
tool, as a helper, a supporter to the movement.” Hofesh

There are small and large moments of floorwork in his work. Watching moves seamlessly go from standing
to low level movement. They need real strength to do this, especially in his legs and centre. As part of their
weekly classes, all of the company work on strength training with GJUUM, to increase their stability and
stamina.

Info from http://hofesh.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Hofesh-Shechter-Alevel-pack.pdf

Fragments
Performed by Hofesh Shechter Company
Choreography and Music by Hofesh Shechter
Additional Music by J.S Bach, Eric Idle
Hofesh’s first choreographic work, Fragments, uses delicate and intense movement to represent the
dynamic between a couple. Set to a cinematic soundtrack again by Hofesh, this is a powerful yet humorous
portrayal of a relationship.
Fragments premiered in June 2003, at Kuopio Dance Festival, Finland
Fragments is a unique piece containing peculiar movement material. I love the range of dynamics and
almost emotional journey it takes you on. From still, intimate moments to rapid, intense bursts of energy.
The aural setting really enhances the movement, especially the almost eerie whispering which intensifies
their intimate interactions. Below is a mind map annotating element of the piece.

Political Mother
Performed by Hofesh Shechter Company
Choreography and Music by Hofesh Shechter
Lighting Design by Lee Curran
Costume Design by Merle Hensen
Musical Collaborators Nell Catchpole, Yaron Engler
Percussion Arrangements by Hofesh Shechter, Yaron Engler
Additional Music by J.S.Bach, Cliff Martinez, Joni Mitchell, Giuseppe Verdi

Performed by 10 dancers and accompanied by Hofesh’s cinematic score featuring a band of live
drummers and electric guitarists.

Political Mother brims with Hofesh’s emotional and gritty complexity. Pulsating live music, extraordinary
ensemble sequences, and cinematic editing make Political Mother a dance experience like no other.
Political Mother promises to draw audiences back to Hofesh’s world whose astonishing unisons, percussive
grooves and raw, honest physicality mark him as one of the most exciting artists to emerge in recent years
Meaning behind the piece
grand-scale work about political indoctrination and totalitarianism. Shechter grew up in Israel before
coming to the UK in 2002, and this is the last of the half-dozen works which overtly reflect that experience.
In its scale and anger, Political Mother can be read as a final exorcism of Shechter’s demons before he
turned his gaze from his past to his present. The piece is also the ultimate expression of his determination
to rid contemporary dance of its po-faced, studio-bound connotations. What Shechter gives us in Political
Mother is dance as rock concert, a ‘bone-shaking physical assault’.

The opening, defining image is of a samurai figure plunging a sword into his own belly. This, says Shechter,
is the end point of all notions of nationalism, militarism and glory: a shuddering exsanguination in the dust.
There’s a rolling thunder of sound – crashing percussion, driving power chords – and the lights go up on a
gallery of guitarists and drummers high above the stage (there are 26 musicians in all, including a full
orchestral string section).

Personal thoughts
This piece I personally feel is so powerful given its meaning and effort behind the piece. The raw emotion
shown through the gritty and almost aggressive movement is complemented by the sense of togetherness
and unity whilst placed in a cluster or grouped formation. Varied intensities of the music really enhances
the current emotion. Again, for this work I have annotated some sections to really get a feel for the piece
and what he achieved.
Practical exploration
Week 1
Having finished studying Marion Motin, we have begun to look at another contemporary choreographer with a wild
and rich animalistic style often influenced by his experiences at war. His name is Hofesh Schechter and today we
were taught a few phrases to get our bodies moving in his low and grounded style of work. As mentioned, before I
have found it difficult to really ground myself, but today I have really managed to grasp his style, thinking of the
influences behind his choreography. Next, we had to improvise across the space, at a low level. Its was hard not
setting what we were doing but was a good way of getting us into his style. Individually we then made up our own
phrase, using some words inspired by him. I choses scuttle, lope as the main influence, shifting across the floor in an
inhumane way, below is my phrase on video so far

Next, we were placed in groups, mine being a quartet as we had to work out how to shift across the space as a
cluster. This some of us changing direction and size of our phrase, having to make mine travel further across the
space. To develop this, we will be given tasks to create more movement together as a group as well as tightening the
first formation as much as possible to move as one. Below is our current group performance.
Week 2
Continuing our exploration of Hofesh we were given the task to create a phrase focusing on the upper body and
arms, thinking and relating to words such as throwing, collecting, grabbing, pulsing… I made a phrase reflecting all
these elements, using my arms and upper body along with feet to create moments of fluidity and sharpness. Below
is a video of my phrase.

Next, we returned to last week’s phrase and collectively unified the formations, using choreographic devises such as
cannon and accumulation to travel to the corner. Taking sections from each of our hand phrases we put together
another motif which worked very well together. For variation we varied the dynamics of each phrase or the end
movement of each phrase to add texture. It began challenging to get the arm placement specific, but with practice
we got there in the end. Our new group developed motif is as follows…