Review | ‘Hofesh in the Yard’ is contemporary dance at its best

Hofesh in the Yard | State Theatre Centre | Until 1st March | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Hofesh Shechter, the Israeli born choreographer, who is based in London, is one of the big names in the world contemporary dance.  He’s presented his work around the world, choreographed the memorable dance opening in the second series of Skins, won awards for his work on Fiddler on the Roof, and developed a distinct style of movement. Hofesh is dance royalty.

Here local dancers present two of his works, the highly acclaimed Uprising, followed by a new iteration of his work tHE bAD. It’s a huge honour for local company Strut Dance to present these works, showing that our dancers are world class.   

Staged in the courtyard of the State Theatre Centre the performance is presented with the atmosphere of a rock concert than a dance show. The audience stands around the stage, the space is plunged into darkness before the shapes of the dancers’ bodies emerge from hot white light.

The late starting time of 9:15 also adds to the rock n’ roll atmosphere, rather than the serious and introspective audience that is often found at dance shows, this crowd have all been out to dinner and had a few drinks, it’s a much wilder ambience.

Uprising, which was first performed in 2006, has been acknowledged as a powerful work that celebrates masculinity and the male dancer. Here seven performers wrestle and scrape, they run and slide, the breaking into shuffling and breakdance inspired moves. It teeters between aggression and tenderness, it’s incredibly energetic and raging with testosterone.

The movement is loose and carefree, but the dancers are tightly coordinated – they are all doing exactly the same loose carefree moves in perfect unison. There are quiet moments, but the pulse soon quickens and dancers start to whiz around the stage again. They move like Parkour runners without the obstacles. Rushing, racing, running, sliding and crashing into each other.

After a short break a second piece is offered, tHE bAD fills the stage with dancers of all genders, clad in tight gold bodysuits, it’s like the Oscars statuettes came to life.

The soundtrack is aggressive, and funky, there are tinges of hip hop. The dancers move around the stage in a similar style of choreography, but this time it’s much more sexual. There are violent, powerful hip thrusts, followed by moves that see the dancers racing around the stage.

The work as a party atmosphere at times, dancers get the audience clapping, the sing along to the beat, they dance until it seems they they might fall from exhaustion, but they keep going. Relentless movement. and it seems like never ending energy.

The dancers in this performance are phenomenal, they’ve mastered the style of Hofesh Schechter and shown they’ve got a monumental capacity to remember all these fast paced moves, the stamina to deliver it, the technique to pull it off, and the ability to let their own individual personalities shine through. This show is only an hour long, but there is so much going on, and an an unbelievably powerful energy radiating from the stage.

Hofesh in the Yard is running as part of Perth Festival until Sunday 1st March.

Graeme Watson is an editor at OUTinPerth. He has a background in writing, dance, theatre, radio and film working as a performer, producer and writer. He is a casual academic at ECU, and writes for a variety of publications. Graeme has been working as a reviewer since 1997.

Image: Anthony Tran

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