2014: Hofesh Shechter

Critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter helmed the 2014 Festival

‘Visionary’ Brighton Festival 2014

This year the critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer, musician, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter was at the helm the Festival and we danced our way around an incredible 3 weeks of 147 events in 34 venues across the city.

View a day by day highlight of the Festival here on our news pages.
We also have an amazing library of videos, podcasts and live streams from 2014 too. See our Extras page.

“Being Guest Director of Brighton Festival this year has been an amazing experience for me. It has been such a privilege to spend the whole three weeks in Brighton – which is a very special place to me and my company – I have always loved festivals. Everyone is an outsider and – immediately – nobody is. They are places of gathering, where cultures and society can be questioned, celebrated and ridiculed, a space where we restructure the world the way we want it – a great festival feels like a country all of its own, and I will certainly always be a citizen of the Brighton Festival.” Hofesh Shechter

Described as ‘visionary’ by the Daily Telegraph, our wide-ranging programme of exciting performances, ground-breaking visual arts, talks from international, national and home-grown companies and artists has been acclaimed by audiences, artists and critics alike, with attendance across the Festival exceeding 81% of capacity.

The programme was truly genre defying and featured the highest number of premieres and commissions to date, including the world premieres of Vanishing Point’s Tomorrow and Lost Dog & Lucy Kirkwood’s dance piece Like Rabbits, alongside UK premieres of international theatre company Berlin’s multi-media work Perhaps All the Dragons and contemporary circus from Feria Musica in Sinué.

Opus No.7 by acclaimed Russian theatre director Dmitry Krymov - a UK premiere at the Festival - received 4 stars from all the major broadsheet critics. Matt Trueman, writing in the Daily Telegraph, described the work as ‘visionary stuff, utterly singular’; Lyn Gardner in the Guardian said it was ‘unbearably poignant’ and ‘visually stunning’.

One of the Festival’s biggest hits wasWilliam Forsythe’s interactive choreographic installationNowhere and Everywhere at the Same time, no.2 in Circus Street Market with more than 12 500 visitors dancing in the piece during the three week period. Visitors described it as ‘amazing’, ‘hypnotic’ and ‘better than brilliant’, Instagram spread word about the installation to 32million international followers via its weekly ‘ArtThursday’ blog and a video documenting its installation attracted 60 000 views. See it here.

The 80th birthday of legendary composer Sir Harrison Birtwistlewas celebrated with a series of events, headlined by a revival of his 1969 Brighton Festival commission Down by the Greenwood Side. Set in a disused brewery depot in Lewes, this unique production continued the Festival’s tradition of pioneering site-specific and immersive performances in unusual locations.

Other Brighton Festival 2014 exclusives included a new visual arts co-commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE titled The British Library, which has now been extended until 22 June due to popular demand, Tangled Feet’s immersive, free outdoor performance One Million and much more.

Brighton Festival also played host to an eclectic mix of names across contemporary music; from iconic country music singer Emmylou Harris to a rare live performance from Cat Power and a tour de force performance from Peaches in her one woman rendition of Peaches Christ Superstar – of which Caroline Sullivan in the Guardian wrote simply ‘what a woman. What a show.’

The books and debate strand of the programme boasted a number of high-profile events included a sell-out lecture by best-selling author and designer David McCandless, conversations with Irvine Welsh,Jeremy Deller, Viv Albertinealongside discussions and talks about maths, migration and dementia.

Events for all the family this year included a UK premieres of Tanzfuchs Produktion’s dance extravaganzaMunch! for the under 4s and Enhanced Dance to Disguised Music; Belgian choreographer Thomas Hauert’s first piece for young people accompanied by a prepared piano soundtrack by John Cage. Meanwhile, on film the Cinema of Childhood (throughout May) - curated by Mark Cousins - lookeded at the depiction of children in cinema.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, said, “We have been delighted with how well the Festival has been received this year. Indeed, I can’t remember a festival where audience members have sought me out so frequently to tell me how much they've enjoyed their experience.”

Hofesh Shechter’s appointment as Guest Director was the culmination of a five year relationship between the choreographer and the organisation. Follow him on twitter @hofeshshechter. 

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