Hofesh Shechter’s career has been meteoric. The 37-year-old Israeli-born, London-based choreographer began creating works in 2003, the originality of which immediately caught the dance world’s attention. His electrifying Uprising in 2006, a brutal work for seven men inspired by Shechter’s army experience, made him an international superstar.
Canadian Stage is presenting Shechter’s acclaimed first full-length work, Political Mother, Oct 24 to Oct. 28, featuring 10 dancers and eight musicians. The production has been touring the world to gaga reviews since its premiere in 2010. Shechter wrote his own rock-infused music, which combined with his explosive choreography caused one critic to call Political Mother “a roar of defiance.”
The Globe reached Shechter in London to talk about the signatures of his choreography and the power behind Political Mother.
I’m interested in how you became both a choreographer and a composer.
I started piano when I was 6. I was pretty good, but I didn’t practise enough because I preferred picking out new tunes. I set aside music at 12 when I joined a youth folk-dance ensemble. At 15, I entered the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. I hung out with rock musicians and became really interested in drumming. It was a weird existence, studying ballet and listening to attack music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I moved to Tel Aviv to join the Batsheva Dance Company, but I also studied drum and percussion. When other people get home after a hard day, they want some peace and quiet. I play music that is loud and angry.
Why did you leave Israel?
It’s a small place. I couldn’t see how the creative being inside me could develop as an artist. In Israel, tension is always in the air. I needed a quiet place where I could sit and think. I had a French girlfriend at the time so we went to Paris where I studied percussion. I came to London in 2002 to join the company of Israeli choreographer Jasmin Vardimon. I immediately felt London was the place where I could jump into the water and find my creativity.
You’re generally described as being angry.
I admit anger can be the driving force behind my work. The anger erupts like a volcano during the creative process. I try to share the anger with the audience. Through anger, they find a connection to my work.
The live band of drummers and guitarists seems to be an integral part of Political Mother.
The musicians help animate the show. They are not a backdrop. I see them as a massive wave of energy that carries the choreography.
How would you describe the ethos of Political Mother?
The piece is a chain of events portraying different worlds that exist next to each other. We see flashes of realities that are in turn oppressive, animalistic, tribal, powerless. We then realize that these worlds are illusionary. Strip away the veneer and all the people are the same with their endless need to follow. In a word, we are pathetic. There is relief at the end of the show when we realize that’s the way life is.
What is the signature of your choreography?
Pulling all the ingredients together. Each and every element in the dance piece is there because it’s necessary. My choreography comes from the emotions. It is a personal sense of being connected to the body, which gives it a special flavour, an authenticity, an honesty.
Your movement is characterized by a strong physicality.
I enjoy pushing the body. It’s an energy that comes from the inside out. It’s physicality that is pushed to the extreme to become something out of the ordinary.
Can you explain the title Political Mother?
It’s a disconnect. The two words don’t really belong together, but they capture the energy of the piece.
Editor's note: Political Mother is being presented by Canadian Stage in Toronto Oct. 24-28. Incorrect information appeared in a story published on Tuesday.
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