Hofesh Shechter Company awarded prestigious Fedora Ballet Prize

Hofesh Shechter Company has been awarded the prestigious FEDORA – VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Prize for Ballet 2020 for LIGHT: Bach dances (working title), a major new work that is due to open at the Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen

The FEDORA – VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Prize for Ballet is awarded annually to artists and teams of co-producing cultural institutions who collaborate on the creation of a new ballet production, which encourages innovation and creativity in the form.  

Inspired by Bach’s cantatas, LIGHT: Bach dances (working title) features real-life testimony of people facing death, in a moving, thought-provoking and life-affirming dance, music and theatre piece. 

The winning project is a co-production with the Royal Danish Theatre and marks the second collaboration between internationally-renowned choreographer Hofesh Shechter and award-winning Opera Director John Fulljames who, following their hugely successful creative partnership as co-directors of Royal Opera House London’s 2015 production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, reunite, and collaborate with conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen to co-create and direct this ambitious multi-disciplinary work.

Hofesh Shechter said ‘To those who have made this Prize possible – thank you. For the support it gives to us, to our partnership with Royal Danish Opera, to our project LIGHT: Bach dances, the artists and collaborators – I am so grateful. More than ever this Prize signals hope to artists and audiences and is truly important. With it we can imagine and create a powerful, meaningful experience through dance, music, and text in a way that will be life affirming and celebratory – to bring us together.’

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John Fulljames, co-director, said ‘This is wonderful news and I echo Hofesh’s thanks to the Prize organisers and sponsors who are supporting the development of our bold new work at a very challenging time. For Royal Danish Opera, our collaboration with Hofesh Shechter Company and Concerto Copenhagen allows us to create ambitious multi-disciplinary work and bring it to new audiences. Hofesh and I want to make a very raw and honest production by bringing coherently together dance, song, instrumental music, text and image – as all the best opera does. This Prize enables us to collaborate with a wonderful creative team and to work with many musicians performing Bach’s music. This music offers some of the most truthful and rawest explorations of life and death in the history of music; it is profoundly moving music which is both rich in ideas and which inspires dance.  We’ve never made a piece like this before and we hope this new work will speak in a fresh way to a new generation of audiences.’

LIGHT: Bach dances (working title) includes a cast of 39 performers that appear on stage together, including Baroque orchestra Concerto Copenhagen conducted by Mortensen, 10 singers and 8 dancers. Shechter’s raw, fragile choreography brings a new currency to Bach’s cantatas, sung live and interwoven with a soundscape of voices. These are the recorded testimonies of people who are contemplating the end of their lives.

This is a major new work that is due to open at the Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen on 30 April and will run until 15 May 2021 prior to a European tour.

The other finalists in the ballet category included Chaillot – Théâtre National de la Danse’s co-production Planet [wanderer] by choreographer Damien Jalet and visual artist Kohei Nawa, and Sadler’s Wells’ co-production Traplord by Ivan Blackstock.