No less that nine community groups, including One Youth Dance, University of East London Dance Collective and Cando2 Youth Company, the latter bringing together disabled and able-bodied participants, take part in this extraordinary dance show side by side with the young professional dancers of Shechter II.
And in a delicious contrast with all the grunge and krumping and rapping that make up most of the show, the impeccably drilled and turned out Band of the Irish Guards in their bright red tunics and tall bearskins march on to open and close the proceedings.
It’s that kind of a glorious show.
As you arrive at the East Wall, you’re faced with a vast black stage erected in the actual moat of the Tower. On either side are two raised platforms where the musicians sit. Standing out from the various instruments on the right is a massive drum, and on the left an equally huge gong.
Loud percussion is a constant in all shows musician/choreographer Hofesh Shechter has anything to do with; and he directs East Wall – Storm the Tower.
There’s a chorus, whose harmonies occasionally bring an other-worldly feel to the proceedings, perhaps no more so than with their rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which opens the show.
And then there are the beautifully marshalled, high enthusiastic and in many cases very talented multitudes of young amateurs, who flood the stage in four numbers devised by young up-and-coming London-based choreographers, respectively, Joseph Toonga, James Finnemore, Duwane Taylor and Becky Namgauds.
All four blend a variety of dance languages, from contemporary dance to hip hop, and even, in a daring coup by Becky Namgauds that actually works extraordinarily well in this setting, medieval court dance.
Of the four, Duwane Taylor’s piece – full of anger, aggression, and bringing combat overtones into its breaking and krumping and shouting – has the greatest impact. For this number the show’s band are augmented by the percussion section of the Irish Guards, who emerge serenely and unexpectedly on the wall above the stage.
And so we move on to the fully professional part of the show, provided by members of Hofesh Shechter’s own junior company, Shechter II.
Their number contains much of the choreography from Show, the company’s inaugural performance earlier this year, with Shechter’s trademark borrowing from Middle Eastern folk dance, his continuum of syncopated movements, his ever darker humour and what can only be described as a choreographed frenzy of savagery, as they repeatedly mimic various graphic ways of killing each other from shooting to throat-slitting.
Shechter II are superb dancers, and as they summon the young groups that preceded them for a final apotheosis, they appear genuinely supportive and delighted to be sharing the stage with youngsters some of whom are sure to become the professional dancers of tomorrow.
East Wall – Storm the Tower is the culmination of a four year project and a ground-breaking collaboration between East London Dance, Hofesh Shechter company, Historic Royal Parks and LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre). It is part of LIFT 2018.
|What||East Wall – Storm the Tower Review|
|Where||Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Tower Hill (underground)|
18 Jul 18 – 22 Jul 18, 19:30 Dur.: 75 minutes
|Website||Click here to book via LIFT2018|