There isn’t a much greater thrill for an event producer than to be on tour with
The Rolling Stones – the grand production, tons of equipment and staging, and
weeks of insurmountable logistical headaches, until finally the crowd fills up,
the lights go out and the greatest show on earth begins.
Where do you go
from there? For 29-year-old Stephen Shaw, who lived that reality traveling with
the Stones on their last couple of tours, the answer is Fuerza
“It’s absolutely fantastic, and what I love about it is that it’s
something we’ve never seen before, it provides a unique experience, to say the
least,” Shaw said during a visit last month to announce the dates for the
Argentinean theater/circus/musical extravaganza, which on Thursday opened a
month-long run at the Maxi-Dome of the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
something incredible that occurs when live entertainment can push the boundaries
and create something that’s heartfelt, makes you feel emotions and gives you
goose bumps and shivers,” he said.
Fuerza Bruta might be the only live
performance these days that packs the punch of a high-energy rock show, a Cirque
du Soleil circus spectacle and a gravity-defying visual feast. Although TV
viewers might be sick of seeing the promo ads running nonstop on Channels 2 and
10, in the case of Fuerza Bruta, the hype may be justified.
the Argentinean creators of successful interactive dance production De La
Guarda, Fuerza Bruta (meaning “Brute Force”) has traveled around the world since
premiering in 2006 at the London Roundhouse in 2006. The show has found a
permanent home in New York with over 1,500 performances in the past four years
and everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher to Beyonce and Jay-Z
showing up to see what the buzz is about.
And what they find is an
audience, standing in arena rock-style surroundings, while above them suspended
in some kind of futuristic hi-tech staging, over a dozen performers spend 65
minutes integrating music, dance, acrobatics and eye-rubbing visuals and optical
illusions to create a different reality. Shows like Stomp and Blue Man Group and
our own Mayumana have provided elements of what you’ll find, but according to
Shaw, Fuerza Bruta provides the complete package – complete with audience
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“When you call something interactive, some people walk
away a bit scared, so I don’t use that term loosely,” said Shaw, who has worked
for Fuerza Bruta’s parent company S2BN for six years and has served as executive
producer of the show’s touring production for the past eight
“It’s more the energy that’s built by the performers cause the
audience on the floor to move together as one – that’s the capacity of the
interaction. And in some scenes, the cast come out in the audience and
experience what they’re seeing. The audience is standing the whole time, it’s
general admission – you feel more part of it when you’re not segregated in one
Part of the energy created by the performers is derived from the
seemingly impossible acts they’re undertaking overhead – including use of a
vertical wall of technicolor cloth, a huge whirling sail and, in the most
surreal moment, exotically clad dancers performing a “water dance” in a sea
above the audience’s head, courtesy of special 1/4-mm. thick transparent
While some reviews of the performance have referred to
performers clad in suggestive outfits, Shaw disagreed with that assessment and
provided reassurances that Fuerza Bruta is an “all-ages” show.
like that negative connotation of ‘scantily clad.’ The performers are dressed
appropriately for the show, and I think that anyone from the age of seven will
enjoy it,” he said.
Shaw, who left Israel to set up the show’s recent
performances in Berlin, returned last week to direct the logistics of setting up
the staging and equipment for the Tel Aviv shows, which are being sponsored by
“We have troupes touring in Asia and Europe simultaneously as
well as our New York show, and we have enough manpower, performers and equipment
to run four tours at the same time,” he said.
That level of coordination
requires expertise that Shaw acquired from his years touring with The Stones in
what was, for a recent college graduate, a dream job.
“It was an
incredible experience – both from a personal life experience of being able to
see the world and receiving a paycheck for it – and from a career and
professional standpoint. I was able to learn about different markets, meet
promoters, see how different cultures react to live entertainment. It’s been
invaluable to my career,” he said.
Shaw was part of the operational crew,
arriving at the venue a few days early, overseeing the building of the stage,
merchandise stands, and insuring that everything is working properly when the
“You don’t see the band much, sometimes backstage before
the show, but it’s run very professionally – it’s not the lifestyle you see in
movies like Almost Famous,” said Shaw, who worked on his first concert at age 16
as a local stagehand in his native Toronto, pushing boxes around for pop boy
band ‘N Sync.
Ten years ago, Shaw interned for Canadian promoter Michael
Cohl who now runs the S2BN entertainment company.
He sold posters at
shows, and was eventually hired and worked his way up the company
That path has led him to Israel, helping Fuerza Bruta take that
last step off the rung into the stratosphere.
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