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There are short bursts of energy, staccato pauses. The rhythm eventually slows to allow for pensive, intimate portraits. Shechter’s greatest choreographic bravura often comes at the quietest moments, in the duets of dancers embracing and intricately interlacing limbs as they lift one another into the air. The soundtrack ebbs and flows from classical violin recordings to head-banging rock. Shechter composes the music for all his choreography, and the score of “Political Mother” features both live and recorded sections.
“I was a shy kid, and my first motivation to dance was social,” Shechter said of his background. “It was a way to get out of my shy bubble. I joined a youth folk dance group in Jerusalem, and I met people from all around town. I fell in love with the rush of performance, and how it pushed me to get comfortable with my body onstage. It wasn’t easy for me at first, but this challenge attracted me. It felt so good to finally be able to express myself freely.”
Shechter’s first training was in Israeli folk dance, and that influence shows in his movement vocabulary. In “Political Mother,” the ensemble struts and jogs in circling, weaving patterns. The dancers focus their eyes up to the sky and down to the ground, praising the heaven and the earth.
Shechter trained and performed with Batsheva Dance Company, led by Ohad Naharin. He describes his stint with Batsheva as “a fast train of education in a condensed amount of time.” Shechter shares Naharin’s raw, animalistic movement quality, but his work focuses more on specific, tangible imagery and less on abstract deconstruction. After dancing with Batsheva, Shechter studied in Paris at the Agostiny College of Rhythm and also played drums in several rock bands. His particular passion for music, especially percussion, allows his art to push past traditional genres. In 2008, after a series of choreographic projects, Shechter founded his own company in London. He said he is energized by the city’s multiethnic landscape, and his work is urban and youthful. “Political Mother” is decidedly gritty, more like a warehouse rock show than a movement study on a concert stage.
“Political Mother” will have the opportunity to expand Shechter’s audience even further in December, when he ends this year’s tour in Qatar, marking the first time Shechter’s work is performed in an Arab country. “I don’t know what to expect,” Shechter said. “I always say, in essence, politics divides people and art connects people. I’m always happy when art wins.”
Stacey Menchel Kussell is a culture writer. Her most recent articles have examined Israeli contemporary dance. Hofesh Shechter’s ‘Political Mother’ will be performed at BAM October 11-13 and at the Orpheum in Minneapolis on November 13