Compassion wins for Hofesh Shecter's choreography - review

On this rare visit to Tel Aviv, his company performed a double bill labeled Double Murder, composed of two works.

HOFESH SHECTER’S ‘Double Murder.’ (photo credit: TODD MCDONALD)
HOFESH SHECTER’S ‘Double Murder.’
(photo credit: TODD MCDONALD)

Israeli-born choreographer Hofesh Shechter, a former Batsheva dancer and aspiring musician, had settled in London. Within a few years, he formed his own dance company and launched a meteoric career of international scope.

On this rare visit to Tel Aviv, his company performed a double bill labeled Double Murder, composed of two works; Clowns which erupts as a wild event that slides gently into a bloody yet playful dystopia. The next one is called The Fix.

While Clowns is fueled by tons of morally misdirected energy, The Fix strived on compassion, yet both are inseparable in many ways but mostly by the specific intimate presence of this particular cadre of dancers and the silky power of the accompanied music composed by Shechter.

On an empty stage stands a dancer, trying to interact with the Israeli audience by similar tricks that any politician might do on Election Day. He urged them to shout back to him an outdated encouragement jargon slogan – “Kifak Hey” (freely translated as “Hurray”). It makes one wonder if it ever worked abroad. Although a bit embarrassing, it directed attention to the Israeli aura of that piece; filled with traces of local ethnic dances, supported by the perfectly styled folkloric outfits and spiced with a pinch or two of Batsheva-idiosyncratic moves.

The work is rich in choreographic details structured as a garland of short scenes separated by a few seconds of complete darkness, which enhance the effect of the freshly budding, new group compositions and their self-deconstruction. Many mini-bites used clear geometric forms like a circle, diagonal lines and formal unisons relying on fine structural variations that cleverly turn into the soft simulations of murders; men strangle their partners as they, in turn, shoot others in a most polite and esthetic manner. Horrors and brutality are played as slow-motion actions are executed without apparent emotional involvement. Slow-motion murders are played in a cinematic frame-by-frame technique that turns the horrid events into mundane games. No blood, no harm or is it?

Committing to a message

Obviously, the company is totally committed to the undercurrent messages that reflect the social and political conflicts that are central issues in our reality and their staged dance is a rather sophisticated way to convey a meaningful say in such a refined manner.

The second work, The Fix, is much mellower and although it lacks the energetic explosions of Clowns, it treads on effective but softer ground. It contains similar traits of Shechter’s artistic perceptions and takes the risk of promoting compassion, a rather rare behavioral component nowadays.

The evening ended as the entire cast stepped down and warmly hugged lucky members of the audience. Both sides looked radiating. Compassion won.