Hofesh Shechter Company – Grand Finale “explosive and mind-blowing choreography”

Hofesh Shechter. Photo: Rahi Rezvani

After sensational works like Political Mother and barbarians, Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Hofesh Shechter returns with a new explosive and mind-blowing choreography; a sensory experience that combines theatre, live music and powerful contemporary dance.

Grand Finale successfully shakes the audience with an apocalyptic and powerful vision of a collapsing world, where the human being is haunted by feelings of suffering and uncertainty – an effective parallel with nowadays society where the sense of frustration sometimes takes over rationality.

Alternating moments of chaos and harmony, the company presents a dark performance infused with bleak humour, in contrast with the graceful idea of classical ballet’s grand finale.

The first part of the show sees ten dancers in a dimly lit stage, dressed in early twentieth century clothes, accompanied by a soft lyrical music played live by five incredible musicians.

Slowly the rhythm starts to get more intense and darker until it reaches a climax where pulsating music, vocal chants, electro tunes and classical notes set the score for a high-octane, feverish dance.

Thunderous drums invade the stage like a bomb, a hugely intense rhythm that provides the perfect environment for a catastrophe. Bodies entwine in frenzy battles; pulling and lifting, catching and letting go. Gestures can be violent and graceless.

Shechter’s signature dance vocabulary is perfectly identifiable in the use of wide arched arms, curving movements of the torso, quick frenzy hops, jittery movements, and shaky hands that stretch toward the sky.

Tall rectangular structures cast their shadow on the floor and float freely as a constant unsettling presence. A clever interactive setting, designed by Tom Scutt, that allows performers to dance in between this sort of black walls. Dead bodies are pulled and dragged all over the stage, cuddled and embraced in a superb waltz – one of the most effective sequences.

The second part of Grand Finale is a confirmation of Shecher’s trailblazing style. Anxiety and suffering are still present, but the overall feeling is more cheerful; dancers interact with musicians in what seems like a popular celebration.

Accompanied by a loud pressing rhythm, tight dance sequences unfold in a collective piece, building a good tension and keeping harmony together. The exceptional ability of all dancers to keep up with the pace, combined with theatrical gestures and tense energy, is simply impressive.

It is hard to describe the feeling you get after watching Grand Finale – there isn’t a specific story or a particular meaning to grasp, but only a showcase of powerful intense emotions conveying an overwhelming sense of anxiety and hope at the same time.

Reviewed by Francesca Marotto at Sadler’s Wells on 12 September.