Hofesh Shechter : From England With Love

As you enter the smoke-filled Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, an empty stage, a hushed silence as we await the start of the performance. The lights dim, then rise illuminating the 8 performers of Shechter II, who will interpret Hofesh Shechter’s love letter to England and all things English. 

Dressed in neat school uniforms and grouped in a circle, as the rousing chords of Elgar’s Nimrod stir, so they awake, arms unfurling and stretching like a flower blooming – the birth of a nation. The regimented movements reflecting the formal school uniform, the gentle and considered dancing respecting the traditional music. 

The lights briefly dim before illuminating the same dancers but now the pristine shirts are untucked and/or unbuttoned, the school ties reappropriated in some cases as headbands and the music likewise breaks with formality as we witness a playful anarchy take over.

For just shy of an hour, the performance evolves through classical composers to rock, electronica and more, the dancers at times dancing independently then effortlessly falling into sync. The pace rarely relents, the furious energy dipping only for a momentary scene change, each time a brief blackout signifying the evolution of the work.

Tom Visser deserves praise for the incredibly effective lighting that only heightens the skill of the dancers on stage.

As the piece concludes with William Henry Monks 'Abide With Me', the chaos and cacophony subsides, the clinking to teacups, the signature royal wave behind us as we reflect on what it meant, means and may mean to be English and all of the beautiful mess than entails.

Shechter excels at creating work that embraces both the formal and traditional dance form with modern creativity and From England with Love is no exception.

This show was reviewed on the 18th April 2024 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London.  For more details on Hofesh Shechter's work please visit: Home Page Company - Hofesh Shechter Company

Review written by Mike Stocks


Photo credit: Todd MacDonald & Tom Visser

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