cast 2.0

Picture: Todd MacDonald

Contemporary 2.0

Hofesh Shecter Company/Shechter II

Birmingham Hippodrome


“We are in the business of inspiring people…” says London based and world-renowned choreographer Hofesh Schechter.

As far as mission statements go its is a bold one but one that Schechter and his development company Shechter II have every right to claim. Contemporary 2.0 is absurdly inspiring.

Before we get into the details of the performance I have to share that I have been so impressed this year with the variety that FABRIC (formerly Dance Xchange) and Birmingham Hippodrome have brought us.

I so enjoyed the delicious dichotomy of something as well loved and traditional as The Nutcracker playing on the main stage while under the same roof, the company of Schechter II were kicking down doors in the Patrick Studio with a breath-taking contemporary dance performance.

First created in 2019 for Sweden’s GoteborgsOperans Danskompani, choreographer Schechter has re-imagined that original work (hinted at in the title “2.0”) and the result is one of the most energetic, intriguing and confident performances I seen all year.

If I had to sum up the piece in one word it would be, confident. From the very first second when the dancers literally explode out of the unnerving blackness of the stage, music (also composed by Schechter) loud and pulsing. To the intention with which every single dancer in the company performs the choreography. This is a piece that grabs your attention by both hands and refuses to let go, promising that we will not be able to look away for a second nor will we want to.

Split in to Five parts Pop, With Feelings, Mother, Contemporary dance, and The End, Shechter explores various themes using specifically stylistic movement. Pop for example immediately evokes images of dance seen in music videos, there were even moves thrown in that we all are guilty of using ourselves on the dance floor.

dance cast

Picture: Tom Visser

With Feelings shifts tonally to something darker but offers a genuine jaw dropping moment that is achieved through clever lighting design by Tom Visser and pure artistry from the dancers.

The continuous repetitions of Mother give it an irresistible tribal feel, and Contemporary Dance is as you would expect; a commentary laced with humour on Shechter’s own dance background.

The final section The End is in a word, genius. I’m not even sure exactly why? Perhaps it’s the audacity to repeat a whole section of movement we saw in Pop but put it to Frank Sinatra’s My Way? Perhaps it’s because it throws up questions of beginnings and endings?

What informs a style of dance, music or intention? How can the meaning of movement change? Whatever the answer the result was so unexpectedly uplifting, I couldn’t fault the audience for giving the performers a double standing ovation.

And finally, we come to the performers themselves. Schechter II is a development company which selects dancers every two years between the ages of 18-25 from around the world, to train and nurture. Hofesh Schechter Company clearly has an eye for talent as the performers here – Alex Haskins, Chanel Veyent, Cristel de Frankrijer, Tristan Carter, Justine Gouache, Zakarius Harry, Keanah Faith Simin, Oscar Jinghu Li are the fiercest, most confident (there’s that word again) performers I have seen all year.

Each fully developed characters in their own appearance and movement style, what they share is a commitment to the performances as individuals and to, as Schechter says himself “inspiring people.” They hold nothing back. Every last once of breath and sweat is left on the floor. For the full hour of running time, their energy as a group radiates off the stage and it really is inspiring to watch.

Contemporary 2.0 played its final dates in the UK in Birmingham this week before continuing on to Europe and I for one cannot wait to see what the Hofesh Schechter Company bring us next.

Janine Henderson


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