Hofesh Shechter is a choreographer whose work I have been meaning to see for years, but just not quite managing it. Last night I finally made it to a performance of Grand Finale, and I wish that I had seen his other shows in London, because I loved what I saw and want to have something to compare last night’s show with.
Shechter’s choreography was highly distinctive, full of seething groups of figures punctuated by virtuosic changes of tempo and direction, and wonderful physicalised cross-rhythms. I realise that I have seen and even performed echoes of his style in various opera productions; not least my favourite-ever dance-break in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which covers a scene-change with 45 seconds of explosive flailing by a select group of choristers. Conscious homage or not, this moment is pure Shechter.
In Grand Finale, one of the things that struck me most forcibly was the image of a group of people whose mouths remain open as they move, as if unable to make a sound. I couldn’t not hear a scream or intake of breath seeing this, and when the dancers were finally able to vocalise I found it a huge relief.
It also made my jaw ache in sympathy. Not only were the dancers’ artistry and athleticism remarkable, but so was their stamina.