Grand Finale is a modern dance spectacle from composer and choreographer Hofesh Shechter.  He jokes that this is a title he can only use while he is still young, and the work is certainly full of youthful energy.

The loud, percussive and electronic soundtrack that he has created may not be to everyone’s tastes, I know some found it uncomfortable, but if like me you are a fan of a wide range of music including everything from German electronica to garage beats you will enjoy this track.  Added to it is a small group of on-stage musicians playing classical music in small sections.  They are dressed as the musicians on the Titanic were, in formal dress but with some old style lifejackets on.

The choreography of Hofesh Shechter is never less than captivating, and in this work he plays extensively with interplay between living and apparently dead bodies, who get tossed around like rag dolls in all manner of scenarios. It sounds strange, but is actually rather beautiful and very skilled.  There are hints of many diverse dance styles in this work, even including trance rave repetitiveness, folk and Irish dance and many other styles.  The nine dancers interact with great skill and precision, and make very complex dance look easy, but I am sure it is not.

Hofesh Shechter himself admits to an experimental element to this work.  When the work was in creation he took himself and his dancers to a remote and isolated Italian village, and there they innovated together to forge this performance.

There is no set as such, but the dancers themselves move big, dark blocks around the stage to create a number of different spaces.  These massive monoliths are a part of the dance themselves, but their size gives a threatening and dark setting which is often enhanced by the most minimal of lighting, indeed there are some moments of complete silence and darkness giving a powerful contrast to the noise and energy at other times.  An overall smoky haze in the theatre further reinforces the almost dream-like feel of this show.

Many people will want to know the story in this work.  The delight for me is that there probably is no story, except the one that you can make up in your own mind.  This may be a dream, but it is your own dream, and can be scary or uplifting, joyous or serene as you wish, or all of these things.  But whatever your personal take, this is a hugely enjoyable dance performance that I would happily see again, several times, such is the richness of the dance and music and the astonishing breadth of detail in the choreography.  This has been a highlight of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2018.

© Julian Swainson 2018



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