Described by one critic as “a danced musical video for the MTV generation,” Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut is a daringly innovative take on the blend of choreography, live music and politics.
First seen in 2013 at Sadler’s Wells, where Shechter is Associate Artist, this reprise of Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut is part of #HOFEST - an ambitious Autumn programme aimed at saturating London venues with Shechter’s work - from the august Covent Garden stage to the more demotic surroundings of the Brixton Academy.
Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut, for which Shechter also composed music, is a high-impact piece that leaves none of your senses unaffected. With a live eight-piece band of guitars and drums high up on stage, the very loud, highly rhythmic music thumps through your body even as it vibrates into your ears.
At the same time your eyes are being assaulted by Shechter’s vigorous choreographic language: earth-bound, deeply influenced by Jewish and Middle Eastern folk dance, with his ten dancers clustering together, stamping and leaping in unison, and describing intricate patterns.
They pass seamlessly from fluid motion to jerky movement. At times waving arms stretch up to heaven; other times, heads are bound in apparent submission.
In all sequences this is a group piece with no place for soloists.
Lighting design is by habitual Shechter collaborator Lee Curran. Light shafts cut through a smoky atmosphere. As the LA Times put it: “Not everything can be seen. Fog floats in the background intensifying the furtiveness.”
And what of its message? This is called, after all, Political Mother… and its message is highly political. As with so much of Shechter’s work, this too is about conflict, about the Middle East, about the human, specifically Jewish, condition. It’s about the collective that can be brutalised by a domineering state; about the conflicting impulses to bend head and submit and at the same time seek freedom.
All this is, of course, brought to the audience through highly symbolic means and with a wealth of imagery and cultural references that include Fritz Lang’s classic film, Metropolis, and Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.
Towards the end of the piece, when suddenly the action rewinds itself, a cryptic slogan is projected in lights: “Where there is pressure there is folk dance.” Which, of course, is another way of stating Shechter’s belief that every dance is political.
Whereas Shechter always challenges your brain to seek a meaning or find a reference, the impact of his work is very physical. You feel it in your body, through over-stimulated senses. You leave slightly dazed… and slightly high.
Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut is a work particularly well suited to the rock gig atmosphere of the Brixton Academy. Launching the programme, Shechter said: “The electricity, the vibe, the energy of the Brixton Academy is amazing, and I really connect with that kind of audience – I am that kind of audience.”
Unusually for a dance performance, there will be a warm-up act on each night. On the 7th, the multi-award winning folk singer Eliza Carthy will precede Political Mother onto the stage. With two Mercury nominations and five BBC Folk Awards in the bag, Carthy is a crowd-drawing act in her own right.
On the 8th, acoustic group Rita Payne open proceedings. Having warmed up for the likes of Bellowhead and The Animals, they're sure to ignite the crowd.
|What||Political Mother: The Choreographer's Cut #HOFEST|
|Where||Brixton Academy, 211 Stockwell Rd , SW9 9SL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Brixton (underground)|
07 Oct 15 – 08 Oct 15, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the O2Academy website|