Contemporary Dance 2.0, the piece on offer at BAC, was originally created in 2019 for Sweden's GöteborgsOperans Danskompani, and is now performed by Shechter’s junior company, Shechter II.
For once the programme blurb doesn’t exaggerate when it describes these eight young dancers, aged between 18 and 25, as ‘representing the most exceptional world-class dancers from across the globe’.
They are truly remarkable dancers, totally immersed in Shechter’s idiosyncratic style, their coordination absolute, their stamina awe-inspiring.
The piece itself is typical Shechter, but it’s interesting that although it relies on his usual tropes – vigorous, syncopated, ritualistic dance to a loud percussive score by Shechter himself – it feels fresh, its club vibe as intense and engaging as ever. That it is simply about dancing, with no attempt at philosophical constructs (unlike previous Shechter pieces) is definitely a plus.
Individually costumed in bright colours (costume design Osnat Kelner), and bathed in hazy lighting that flows between orange and blue tints (Tom Visser/Alan Valentine) the dancers, four men and four women, take to the stage with a show of energy that never flags. The choreography treats men and women exactly the same.
Arms stretch and fold rhythmically, hips swing, torsos contract and let go. Very occasionally one leaps in the air, but mostly their dance is grounded. They form and reform different groupings, rather like a restless kaleidoscope, where elements coalesce into a fleeting image, before dissolving again.
Even when each seems to be dancing for him or herself, with no discernible reference to the others, their synchronicity is absolute. At times, though, they come together as when they form a line facing the audience downstage, hold hands and slowly raise their arms in what is a rare meditative moment in an otherwise frenzied piece.
Shechter’s signature gestures drawn from Middle Eastern dances are present: when the dancers slap their chest, look up to heaven or hunch into themselves, hop with raised knees, or sway pensively from side to side.
Equally present is his use of scrawled boards held by the dancers between sections to name the next section, for example, Part II With Feeling or Part IV Contemporary Dance, the latter a case of typical Shechter humour, as it’s danced to a snatch of music by J S Bach, and although the choreography is a little slower and softer, it’s still very much of our times.
The tension is finally released with Part V: The End which is danced to Frank Sinatra’s My Way. You smile, breathe out, realise you’re letting go of the accumulated tension. And you come out into the night feeling energised and really quite happy.
Age Guidance: 13+
Contemporary Dance 2.0 will be playing at Dance XChange Birmingham on Thursday 24-Friday 25 November, prior to an international tour
|What||Shechter II, Contemporary Dance 2.0 review|
|Where||Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Clapham Junction (overground)|
26 Oct 22 – 29 Oct 22, 20:30 Dur.: 53 mins approx no interval
|Price||£6-£25 (pay what you can)|
|Website||Click here to book|