Santa Barbara Dance Theater, Photo: Brandon Whited
Santa Barbara Dance Theater, Photo: Brandon Whited

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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Hofesh Shechter Company

Hofesh Shechter Company

Company:
Hofesh Shechter Company

Performance Date:
10/13/2012

Company / Show / Event
Hofesh Shechter Company

Performance Date
10/13/2012

Venue / Location
BAM | Brooklyn Academy of Music

A bit about you:
(your occupation, the last time you moved, your website, etc.)

Dancer and writer at http://thefleetingbody.blogspot.com

Freeform Review:

Hofesh Shecter’s first evening-length work, Political Mother, is a brute and provocative tableau of fervid human interactions wrapped in a dystopian abyss. We are dislodged from the comforts of our sanguine perceptions of the world and nudged into our deepest cynicisms of it. This work enabled me to think intently about what it means to be voiceless and in captivity within a top-down chain of command that is both ruthless and destructive.

Shechter, and his stunningly heterogeneous dancers, shape themselves within haunting, feisty, and emotionally loaded movement vocabulary. These movements are paralleled with abrasive music that is ear-splitting. Thrashing electric guitar players, heavy hitting drummers, and a lead singer whose vocals are so thunderous it projects out garbling mumbles, accompanies the intensity of the dancers. The drummers are arranged upstage with the guitarist and lead vocalist staged directly above them on an elevated platform. The band is a representation of a hierarchal figure, in which the lead vocalist seemingly characterizes the head authority. He performs dramatic, out of body movements that are vicious and billowing. The dancers appear to be the subordinates, performing ritual like movements that are repetitive and done by rote.

There is an unnerving temperament in Political Mother that creates intrinsic havoc and instability. The piece opens with a man dressed in a samari outfit stabbing himself with a sword. It is a gripping scene to start off a piece. Dancers then begin to flock in and out, dressed in shabby clothes, in a tribal manner. The roundedness of the shoulders and upper back, the insightful gesticulation of the fingers and hands, and the disorderly nature of the dancers thread a voluminous narrative of what it means to survive in a tumultuous, power driven society. Another incisive portion of the piece occurs when a man appears with a gun and slowly walks behind all of the other members of this tribe-like cohort, as they stand in a horizontal line, waiting for their fate. This nerve-racking incident fills one with extreme trepidation but so vividly illustrates the complex psychology of survival and how far one will go to come out alive. We are being entangled within this web of constant conflict but given a moment to smirk once the words were there is pressure there is folkdance brightly lights up against the backdrop of the stage. It is up to the individual to interpret the meaning of this quasi-amusing statement.

In the final moments of Political Mother, Shechter takes the seventy-minute piece and retrogrades it in a matter of minutes. I found this to be one of the more compelling aspects of the work. These dexterous dancers facilitated the psychotically rapid movement with ease and mastery. The lengthiness felt necessary in that it informed and foreshadowed future events, which would later be the retrograde sequence. I felt I was given enough time to process, access, extrapolate, and organize all that had occurred into a clear context, which made for the retrograde a dazzling experience. If it were any shorter it would have felt rushed and I believe every moment of the piece had valuable significance.

Shechter is a master at crafting movement that permeates and rattles the nervous system. He is thorough in how he structures an allegorical frame, for the overarching thesis of control, by way of hostile movement phrases. Although the intensity of the movement and music appeared to be the dominating force, moments of softness and stillness sporadically sprinkled throughout this raging and ambitious performance.

 

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