Hofesh Shechter on “Political Mother” at BAM

Photo by John Ross

Tonight, Israeli-born, Britain-based choreographer Hofesh Shechter brings Political Mother (2010/2011) to BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House (Oct. 11-13; tickets $20+). Culturebot’s Lydia Mokdessi interviewed the choreographer via email.

How did Political Mother come into being?
Political Mother started as a little sketch in my notebook that outlines the first sort of 8 minutes of the piece. It was a train of thoughts translated into images, images of different realities flashing one after the other- I was curious as to the emotional effect these series of images will have. Their somewhat contradictory nature and felt interesting to me, and mirrored questions that were rolling in my head about how easily we accept that different parallel realities co-exist. Then I got into the lengthy period of working on sounds and music, working in the studio with dancers, and finding the energies and atmosphere that can tell the story of Political Mother.

Describe the process of creating the dance and the score. What is it like to be composer, choreographer and director simultaneously? How do you find a starting point?
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 fulfillment of the energy it brings. It’s also extremely challenging and time consuming, but then extremely rewarding.

I’ve read that you consider most contemporary dance to be boring. Why do you think that is?
Some contemporary dance drowned in its own definition, and communicates only to the ones that hold the manual. It’s like going to a lecture about cellular-physics when you know nothing about cellular-physics; you’ll either be astound and fascinated, or bored to death. Contemporary dance is, as titled, about being connected to the contemporary, to the now, and as such I find it most interesting when it’s a vessel and echo to emotions and sensations that connect people to places they know, that they experience in their life, but giving them another angle or an access point to their experiences; access through the vibrations and the sensations of the body.

Your work has been described as “maximalist”: ultra-loud, ultra-emotive, ultra-physical. How did you arrive at this aesthetic? How did this become your way of working?
I kindly disagree with this description of the work, but I do agree it is part of the work. The reason I disagree is because it is not the focus of the work–the maximalism is sort of a backdrop to the people, the bodies, and the human emotions that respond to the massive powers that operate around them. One can look at it and see the power; others will look and see the weakness.

You have discussed the moment where you felt your career crossing over from “up-and-coming” in the UK to exploding on the international dance scene, when your shows sold out Sadler’s Wells. What do you think it is about your work that feels particularly relevant now?
I’m not 100% sure… The work comes from a sincere place and maybe that’s something people can relate to. It is made out of emotions, and I think people are looking to feel, to experience. Also, the questions that are floating in my head are surely very similar to the ones people around me have, as well as the frustrations, anger, and crave for hope, and the work echoes a lot of that.

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