Hofesh Shechter Uses Dance To Unite People

Choreographer's 'Political Mother' Defies Definition

Dance, Music, Sex, Romance: ‘Political Mother’ combines 
multiple art forms.
Gabriele Zucca
Dance, Music, Sex, Romance: ‘Political Mother’ combines multiple art forms.

By Stacey Menchel Kussell

Published October 11, 2012, issue of October 12, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

In the opening scene of Hofesh Shechter’s “Political Mother,” a lone man stands onstage, clothed in a pared-down version of Japanese Samurai armor. Soft choral music sets in. The warrior lifts his sword and proceeds to slowly pantomime seppuku, the ritual of honorable suicide. The lights cut to black; the music screeches to silence, and then, seconds later, startles the audience with loud heavy-metal guitars.

Shechter, an Israeli-born choreographer based in London, is familiar with dramatic scenes. His own rise in the world of contemporary dance over the past five years has itself created quite a stir. In England, he sells out huge auditoriums such as Sadler’s Wells and Brighton Dome. This fall, Shechter’s “Political Mother” will bring the artist’s provocative mélange of dance, music and physical theater to the United States, debuting at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October, then moving to Minneapolis’s Orpheum Theater.

“With the backdrop of the upcoming American election, I think the piece will feel particularly current,” Shechter said. “It does not have a set agenda, but it does present situations that are full of tension. The physicality of dance makes you think about ideas directly and instinctually, more than you could in a verbal conversation.”

Shechter is a tall man with lanky stretched-out limbs. He has dark hair and a scruffy beard, and though he can look intense and intimidating, he is refreshingly open and unpretentious when discussing his work. “I am a long and stringy man, so I am very interested in fluidity in motion,” he said.

“Political Mother” transports its audience to a dark dreamscape where nightmarish rebellions are suppressed. The piece features bold characters: a politician orating before a crowd, a rock star screaming in rage; an ensemble of dancers who play villagers, prisoners and warriors. Dressed in street clothes, brown work-camp pajamas and medieval armor, these characters trade costumes throughout the piece, suggesting the similarities between captives and captors.

“We explored a variety of themes in the process, but we kept coming back to power and powerlessness,” said rehearsal director Bruno Guillore, a company dancer. “The push and pull between a government and its citizens is a timeless tale.”

“Political Mother” doesn’t have a clear narrative; its scenes flash on and off as if television channels are being changed. The piece starts out fast, with large sections of frenzied marches, runs and jumps.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.