Hofesh Shechter’s SHOW. Photo by Simona Boccedi

Insisting on themes of violence and death, SHOW is extremely raw and infused with elements of bleak humour. Hofesh Shechter, the Israeli cutting-edge choreographer and composer, successfully shakes the audience with a powerful vision of a surreal world where circus parades and ancient dance of the baroque courts entwine with frequent murderous executions.

Constructed in a traditional way, with an entrance, a central piece and a conclusion, SHOW comprises of three pieces – CLOWNS, originally created for the NDT in 2016, and two new creations, THE ENTRANCE and EXIT. Three works that complement each other in a visionary and daring choreography, enriched by all dancers’ astounding vitality and transporting energy.

Hofesh Shechter’s SHOW. Photo by Gabriele Zucca
Hofesh Shechter’s SHOW. Photo by Gabriele Zucca

SHOW is an irreverent work, a provocative take on themes of madness and death, exaggerated by the regular staging of images of throat-cutting killings, presented in the typical style of the company, a balanced mix of dance, theatre and pulsating music.

The opening scene sees silhouettes of eight rebellious performers, lit by a set of back lights, slowly emerging from the haze and walking towards the audience. Accompanied by an overwhelming crescendo of pressing rhythms they present a world ruled by the fools, where everything is possible. The set design, decorated with hanging cords of light bulbs, reminds us of a gloomy and desolated circus tent populated by creepy clowns and street acrobats that keep killing each other in stylized gesture and then wake up again, in a continuous act of violence repeated till the exhaustion.

Arranged in lines or organised in small groups, the captivating fresh energy that unites all dancers is clearly visible from the beginning to the end. They sway side to side with feet anchored to the ground in first position and open arms, or wander bouncing frantically all over the stage engaging in tight dance sequences, every gesture is strongly connected with the music and reflects each beat. The exceptional ability of all dancers to keep up with the pace, combined with theatrical gestures, is simply impressive.

Hofesh Shechter’s SHOW. Photo by Gabriele Zucca
Hofesh Shechter’s SHOW. Photo by Gabriele Zucca

In the long final section performers dance and sing through the curtain calls, what seems to be the end is a resume of what happened in the first two acts, a perpetration of the murderous act alternated with bows and smiles.

SHOW combines Shechter’s signature dance vocabulary with intriguing images, but the dynamic and vibrant energy of the piece is not enough, as the whole show insisted on the same repeated movements, and missed several opportunities for development.

Shechter II, Hofesh Shechter’s junior company, contemplates young talented dancers aged 18-25, selected with auditions all over the world.

Reviewed on 1 December at Teatro Comunale Città di Vicenza