Review: Hofesh Shechter Company Dancers - In Good Company - The Place
Looking at The Place’s programme sheet for In Good Company, the one name printed in slightly larger font than the rest and in bold face is Hofesh Shechter’s. Yet none of the pieces presented on this bill are by him. The performance is a showcase of new work by his company dancers, who undoubtedly regard him as a mentor and a huge influence on their choreographic output.
Working with Shechter day in day out, these dancers must be so ensconced in his style of moving, often contributing significantly to the initial stages of his creative process. Therefore it is no surprise that the evening is rather heavily laden with angst, pulsing movement and a thudding, persistent bass. These elements are all staples of the Shechter formula, which has worked time and again. Of the five pieces performed, four are routine experiments in Shechter-ology.
Masterful performances abound throughout the evening. Philip Hulford and Victoria Hoyland, in particular, impress in James Finnemore’s The Age, weaving in and out of unison with an emphatic precision. A dysfunctional couple, the dancers are intriguingly tentative in approaching each other – Hoyland’s toes curl up in anxiety and Hulford opens his mouth to speak but finds no words.
Sita Ostheimer and Christopher Evans engage in occasionally witty banter about creating Accompany, which they then use as their soundtrack. This is a work about the working process – the pair explore various possibilities including having some audience members on stage and an African-inspired section. Their indecisiveness is part funny, part frustrating.
The evening’s one exception is No Way But Down – a poignant portrayal of a homeless man. Kudos to Sam Coren who disregards the company formula, and decides to write his own. Kasper Hansen’s set evokes a cluttered haven with a mild semblance of order – food cans arranged to form a pyramid sit squarely beside a flimsy-looking shelf held together by string – and a bicycle, with its back wheel clamped, is situated under a shard of blue sky. Igor Urzelai is the king of this tucked-away mansion under a bridge, with the sound of trains zooming past overhead reverberating against its walls. He mounts the bicycle and peddles furiously, generating a seemingly melodious hum as he accelerates, but the bicycle remains stationary. He sits down for dinner – a measly can of beans, accompanied by a cassette tape recording of restaurant sounds. The clinking of cutlery and the cacophony of voices don’t drown out his isolation, instead they amplify his desperate cries for inclusion. He is lonely, and Coren deftly captures this in one highly telling scene in which Urzelai inserts a food can into the hood of his coat and holds it up as though it were a person standing opposite him. Then, he takes a sleeve and wraps it around himself, finding solace in his own arms.
Germaine Cheng is a final year student at the Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance. She is taking part in English National Ballet’s Dance is the Word programme this summer and contributes regularly to londondance.com
Photos: Tom Medwell