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Political Mother

Birmingham Rep

*****

Hofesh Shechter is a UK based choreographer with a political mind.

In 2008 he founded his self-named dance company with Helen Shute and his choreography and artistic work is internationally acclaimed.  

In Political Mother Schechter aims to explore the concept of dictatorship, showing the effects of the struggles of ordinary people.

 Shechter, who made a rare stage appearance in Birmingham, is very clear in delivering his concept. He does not refer to one particular historical event but still manages to make a bold political statement. The dancers show a mass suffering of the working class and a dictator who reigns supreme.

The title of the production is perhaps a reference to the Brechtian era of uprisings and political unrest, but Shechter makes sure to stay universal in his artistic approach. This leads the audience to think about social injustice anywhere at any time.

The deliverance of Shechter's political statement is utterly spectacular. He is an expert at detail, creating an atmosphere of drama and awe. The company is made of twelve dancers who take on the roles of the struggling people. They move emphatically together to create bold and striking images that allude to utter hardship and desolation.

They are dressed in beige clothing, showing that they do not represent an individual, but multitudes of working classes. Their costume is plain but the choreography is far from it. When watching the dancers, the audience can see why Shechter is internationally renowned.

Shechter  appeared dancing the role of the dictator. His frightening persona gives chilling thoughts, especially when he surprises us with his costume of a gorilla mask. This literal imagery and conceptual idea of animalistic qualities is a fearful sight.

Lee Curran's lighting design was the best part of the show. His creative approach was a fantastic aid to the hard hitting concept of the struggle of the people. The design was, on the surface, incredibly simple to deploy but the way Curran used his vision was phenomenal.

Spotlights, gobo’s and blackouts are used to force us to watch each particular moment, creating a vivid picture of complete social destruction. Lights would suddenly cut from the chorus of dancers to the dictator, moving the story at a quick fire pace.

The set is another fantastic detail that shows the brilliance of Schechter’s artistic eye. There is a platform upstage where the band is placed. This is certainly a powerful image that shows the insignificance of the ordinary people. With the dictator constantly above the desperate chorus, the concept of power is made all the more striking. The large dance space is the dancer’s only area, making them seem lost and unknowing.

Perhaps what sets Shechter’s piece apart from all other contemporary dance productions is that he is not afraid to cross the boundaries of music. Apart from the awesome lighting design, it is the music that gives the feeling of wanting to join the revolution with the dancers.

Political Mother could be described as a rock concert, more than a dance production. He integrates angry and violent heavy metal music and we see the band play ferociously as the background to the production. It is indeed loud and brash.

The guitarists of the band stand on the top of the platform and drummers are blocked out by square spotlights underneath. The band created the perfect atmosphere to lead a revolution. Their energy helped to create a cacophony of harsh sounds to lead the strong revolution and give power to the people once more.

Hofesh Schechter is an exceptional dance company who speak to everyone. They have a truly dynamic way of telling a story and provoke a feeling in the audience where the reaction is not only to be entertained, but to be changed and moved by history to remember the gravity of social injustice. To 14-05-16

Elizabeth Halpin

13-05-16

IDFB 2016 

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