War Tragedies in 'Grand Finale' by Hofesh Shechter

By Veronica Posth - Monday, November 12, 2018

"The work is a narration of the war tragedies that the world is still experiencing, most specifically related to the open conflict between Israel and Palestine considering the roots of the choreographer. Visions of death, sorrow, mourning, grief switch to detachment as way to survive and keep living a normal life. "

The piece Grand Finale by Hofesh Shechter, Israeli choreographer based in London, is a pulsating narrative of overwhelming struggle counterposed to pure ecstatic energy. The piece, that in Berlin has been host at the Berliner Festspiele, has shaken steady souls and exited the ones who were already prepared to be struck. Eleven dancers, with extraordinary energy, invade the stage with earthy, tribal, boisterous movements generating a storm of strength and vitality. The magnificent piece, grandiose in its own composition and realisation, with constant and changing images, yet enthralling, has captivated the attentive gaze of the spectators for one and an half hour, with a pause staged brilliantly.

The work is a narration of the war tragedies that the world is still experiencing, most specifically related to the open conflict between Israel and Palestine considering the roots of the choreographer. Visions of death, sorrow, mourning, grief switch to detachment as way to survive and keep living a normal life. 

There are situations in which fear and hope merge, they mutually eliminate each other and fade into a grim insensibility. How else could we know our loved ones far in constant danger and yet still carry on with our usual daily life? 

Elective Affinities, J. W. Goethe. 

War is present and tangible and the human kind with its own lives and situations moves on. Camaraderie, love, joy, wonder, jealousy, disappointment, daily issues of various kind, explicit themselves in a trembling context where the impossibility of opposition to the tragic on going war is interwoven with a feral, contagious and energetic desire of rugged revenge.

Fluxes of energy released seem to flow into a breakneck speed where the performers in their ceaseless power, allow a sort of euphoric folly to come out. In other cases they appear ecstatic in their strong and at the same time fluid movements while they curve their head on the back and keep marching in something that reminds a squadron of soldiers and a group of lasting ravers. Magical the moment when they suddenly stop under a a rain of soap balls that falling softly, leave them all astonished. They look at each other with an overwhelming wonder yet concern as having an epiphany or as to asking themselves what are their purposes, what their goals. The piece evolves stressing their reaction to those unanswered questions while other dilemmas rise up.

Their over energised vortex in motion proceeds with a constant banging music alternated to softer and smoother tracks that give rest also if just for some instants. Live musicians on stage at moments visible, others just audible, alternate their harmonious melodies with various and elaborated electronic compositions by Shechter, creating a sense of joyous atmosphere that switches into dark melancholia and consequent displacement.

The intensity of vigorous movements change the outcome, sometimes solid and sturdy, others delicate and poetic. Authentic scenes of rushing techno dance between narrow walls, soft but passioned kisses, fast and furious phrases, crushed post-conditions, intimate, complicit and intense scenes, are beautifully performed in a delimited, claustrophobic ray of action.

Rough, strong and powerful waves of virtuosity recall tribal forms of dancing where the vibrant and abundant steps of resourceful and capable dancers, confirm the pathos of the impactful and courageous multilayered choreography disquieting the souls and burning the stage.

 

Veronica Posth studied History of Art at the University of Florence and at the University of Glasgow. Specialised in Contemporary Art and Modern Museology she later gained a Master in Curatorial Studies and Exhibition Design between the Fine Art Academy of Florence and the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. Since her University studies, she has been working on conceptualising exhibitions as independent curator and as art and dance critic, reviewer. After many years between London and Florence, she is now based in Berlin.

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