Hofesh Shechter, The Art of Not Looking Back / Untitled

Review in Issue 21-3 | Autumn 2009

Hofesh Shechter is the bright young thing of contemporary dance; and a supported artist of the Brighton Dome, so this was in some ways a homecoming – one of two Shechter shows programmed into the Festival (the other being an outdoor community dance piece, Bangers and Mash, that ended up being performed indoors due to worries about inclement weather).

The Art of Not Looking Back proved to be a controversial piece, dividing critical and audience opinion. The ferocity of the assault of sound, the full house lights that momentarily flooded the auditorium as Hofesh Shechter’s programme began, were nothing to audience reactions to his spoken commentary, in which Shechter announced who he was in a preamble that wound itself up into a gabble of sped-up speech followed by the flat statement, of his mother, ‘She left me when I was two’.

This allowed an interpretation (by some) of this all-women piece as somehow anti-women. Finely crafted and perfectly executed dance, no one disagreed – moments like the controlled mechanicality of the dance, set to JS Bach, which balled up tension and anger against this still beautiful music, while the wind of sound and fury of his composed scores were equally met and translated by each and every dancer on the stage.

The piece untitled presented before the main show sheds light on this – an ironic voiceover announces ‘I am the choreographer, this is my dancer’, as if to say ‘if you can’t make out my meaning then I’ll give it all to you’. I think the same applies to The Art of Not Looking Back, which dances the pain of something, whilst knowing that the labels are uneasily applied. The Art had a willowy grace as well as moments of savagery, but personally I don’t consider it to be an assault on the audience, just a shared battle.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2009

This article in the magazine

Issue 21-3
p. 30