Review: SHOW ★★★★ – Hofesh Shechter’s apprentice company dances up a whirlwind of comedy and menace

Celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter presents Shechter II, his apprentice company for dancers ages 18-25. Just eight extraordinary young international talents, chosen from over 1,000 who auditioned, prove they are already a force to be reckoned with. Rock gig meets circus in this funny, disturbing, sexy show, tinged with the menace of gothic horror.

Dressed in an intriguing amalgam of costumes (costume supervisor Laura Rushton) suggesting clowns, music hall and Edwardiana, the dancers group and regroup, by turns amorous and supportive and threateningly murderous. Attraction proves fatal as, with dizzying speed, they move from ardent embrace to ruthless assassination. As they execute their deceptively wild and fluid measures, they take turns to execute each other, stabbing and strangling, falling and jerking in repeated death throes, only to rise and start all over again. It’s as if Mr Punch had come to life and inspired a whole troupe of imitators.

In Tom Stoppard’s dark comedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, there’s a scene where the troupe of players from Hamlet re-enact the multiple ways in which death is depicted on stage in Jacobean revenge drama. In SHOW, it’s as if it’s been brilliantly translated into contemporary dance. SHOW is divided into three parts, Entrance, Clowns and Exit and these clowns do indeed “have their exits and their entrances”, as Shakespeare himself puts it.

Clowns are famously as scary and disturbing as they are funny and engaging (I was terrified of them as a child) and these eight dedicated performers are so convincing, their show might indeed carry a warning for the faint-hearted. It’s all performed to a pulsating insistent techno score composed by Shechter himself – which I found as disturbing as any clown – and effectively, often spookily lit by Lee Curran and Richard Godin, with stunning use of silhouette.  At one moment, the mood is broken briefly by a stately pavane performed to baroque music, an effective and welcome interlude.

So let’s hear it for Shechter II, aka Riley Wolf (UK), Juliette Valerio (France), Zunnur Sazali (Singapore), Adam Khazhmuradov (Belgium), Natalia Gabrielczyk (Poland), Emma Farnell-Watson (UK), Robinson Cassarino (France) and Neal Maxwell (Switzerland). Their young audience were entranced and their enthusiasm and appreciation of the talent and commitment of these exciting young dancers bodes well for the future of the Hofesh Shechter Company and contemporary dance.

By Judi Herman

Photos by Gabriele Zucca

SHOW is touring the UK until November. Further details and dates can be found at www.hofesh.co.uk and dates are below:

Northern Ireland
Thursday 17 – Saturday 19 May. 7.45pm. £16. The MAC, Belfast, BT1 2NJ. 028 9023 5053.

Suffolk
Friday 1 & Saturday 2 June. 7.30pm. £12, £9 concs. DanceEast, Ipswich, IP4 1DW. 014 7329 5230.

Hampshire
Friday 9 & Saturday 10 November. 7.30pm. £10-£27. NST City, Southampton, SO17 1TR. 023 8067 1771.

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