Grand Finale at Adelaide Festival
Hofesh Shechter is no ordinary choreographer. Israeli born, London-based, Shechter exploded into the contemporary dance world when, as a relative unknown, his 2007 work In Your Rooms was hailed as one of the most important new works of the millennium. Ahead of its opening at Adelaide Festival, Lali spoke with Hofesh about his newest work, Grand Finale. Check out the full interview below:
Hofesh Shechter, Director and Choreographer
What inspired ‘Grand Finale’ and when did the idea for it first arise?
I wanted to make a piece that echoes the spirit of the time, the social panic and collapse and a feeling of things getting out of hand, out of control, in no one's control and yes we all know it's all our doing. There is a general sense of the work falling apart, it's apocalyptic, and hints to an end. End of time, end of culture. Of course nothing is going to end...catastrophe is just a part of cultural cycles, but our fear is interesting to look at. The human emotions that come from confronting a dead end are interesting.
Does your process begin with choosing the music, or do you find the right music to fit your existing idea?
Sometimes it starts from an emotional seed, sometimes it starts from musical sketches. Creation is a messy process. Once things start happening, there is a chaos of ideas, emotions and sounds. I'm trying to put it together as if I were doing a puzzle. I don't have a system, which is unfortunate because it is very exhausting. It's like standing in the middle of a room full of toys.
For Grand Finale I came with a bunch of sketches of music, a quite a lot of them, a lot of them at a level that is unplayable in front of public, but it means something for me and normally it’s about sound, it’s about finding the right sound that creates a mood and atmosphere, and that’s the first thing. The other thing is a notebook full of ideas and sketches and images, and this is the heart of the piece, of course the music is as well but trying to understand what I actually care about now, what I want to comment on, what I want to try and share with a group of people, that’s in that notebook, and I have to decode it because it’s a lot of ideas, it’s a lot of imagery and at the end of the day it’s, you know, I will dig into this notebook, I will dig into my library of sounds and I will try to see what this all means for me, or where can I find power or where can I find something that moves us, that is interesting, that is.. That gives us an angle.
The music is a massive part of my creations; it is very powerful, engulfing and atmospheric. Once I find the right sound, it is easier for me to make the choreography.
I know you use a lot of your personal life and feelings in your work, which is what so many love about it. How do you decide what makes it into your work? Are there topics you would never include? Is there anything out of bounds?
The way I perceive the world, is the way I perceive the world...there is no separation between what's happening around me and inside me. I am the filter that looks around and deciphers the reality, so the reality I present is one that is seen through my eyes. The word reality can feel rather irrelevant when looking at it like that.... all the same what I understand from what's around me is what I am... We are extremely subjective beings, what we see is a reflection of our ability to perceive and understand inside. It's hard to believe, but it's true. The chaos around us- it's our doing. Not some faceless people we will never meet, but you, and me. We are part of that network that kills, occupies, enslaves. So that's what I'm inspired by- you, and me. In essence both of us are here because we won, in the jungle sense of the word.
How do you balance the roles of director and choreographer? When wearing multiple hats on one production, what is your process in bringing the work to life and to what extent does one role influence the other?
There is something liberating about being able to control the music as well as the dance- the music plays a massive part in the rhythm of the piece as a whole, the atmosphere changes and timings. Being able to look at the piece as a whole- visual and sound, means the work is more total in its fulfilment of the energy it brings. It's also extremely challenging and time consuming, but then extremely rewarding. I'm combining the roles by sleeping less.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Ah, don’t know. I prefer films.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Need to look at my schedule, then I can answer that question…!
Plays or musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
What’s next for you after this show?
Starting work on a New Creation for the Hofesh Shechter Company as well as currently making a piece for Goteborg Opera Ballet and restaging a work on Rambert Ballet.
Grand Finale opens at the Adelaide Festival Centre on March 15 as part of the Adelaide Festival. You can get your tickets here.