Hofesh Shechter has a unique style and approach to creating dances or movement phrases, and is known for his darker – perhaps aggressive – choreography. He is popularly viewed as an artist who challenges his audience members and brings disorder to form, imbalance to harmony and confusion to uniformity. SUN, performed at the Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry, was a must-see for the West Midlands dance scene.

Hofesh Shechter's SUN © Gabrielle Zucca
Hofesh Shechter's SUN
© Gabrielle Zucca

The evening began with a written notice stating that the show would include haze and loud music. Anticipation quickly filled the air, equally as much as the haze that congested and blurred our vision. Thus started Shechter's first challenge; having us get accustomed to the smoky theatre and mucky atmosphere. Eventually we heard a voice, and it was safe to assume that it was Shechter's. Sitting in the darkness, the voice informed that we would first see a glimpse of the very end, asking us to sit back, trust and follow along the journey. An unorthodox way to start the show – seeing the finale first. So it began – incredibly loud music, 13 dancers on stage dancing in a puppet-like manner under 100 or more light-bulbs providing a yellow-grayish lighting scheme. The movement combined Baroque dance arms, belly dancing hip rolls and an incredible amount of recognisable gestures, all set to a hodgepodge score which included Arabic darbuka drumming, Scottish bagpipes with a tint of Rock music, and Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser.

SUN © Hofesh Shechter
SUN
© Hofesh Shechter

SUN was a laborious piece and obviously required a great team to create and perform, but it was a challenge to follow and understand. The choreography was a bit too physical theatre-based, and lost the essence of dance. The gestures were intricate, the spacing and patterning were exhaustive, and the use of props – at times comical – were also a bit nonsensical. SUN could be thought of as a modern-day form of storytelling but I am not quite sure what it conveyed. There were three main vignettes told using wooden cut-outs: sheep meet wolf, natives meet the explorer and the third is of a young boy in a hooded jumper meeting a character that was never really revealed. Perhaps these stories were trying to represent fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the other. Fear of our inner beast or the town fool or the villager who dares to be an individual. Sadly, I just could not make sense of it all. The choreography was combatant towards the dancing and the overload of gestures threatened the work. There was an alarming quality throughout the entire piece, leaving one to dangle in this limbo world where you weren't quite in a nightmare, nor really a dream; an Inception-like state where the overuse of gesturing and the incredibly busy choreography left you in a daze.

SUN by Hofesh Shechter © Gabrielle Zucca
SUN by Hofesh Shechter
© Gabrielle Zucca

Shechter's SUN is anything but off the cuff, and gets under your skin in a visceral fashion, making you either love it or hate it. There is nothing effortless about this piece. One thing is for sure: it is not an evening of pretty dancing, and is on the brink of being highly disturbing. Watching Shechter's work, you have a reaction to what's on stage. Like an old banana that is losing its shape, turning brown, sweet in some areas and way too mushy in others, SUN is an acquired taste. If you like a show that can talk over itself, over and over again, without any real resolve, then SUN is your dessert. If you are not fond of overly ripened bananas, I would suggest that you pass.