We caught up with internationally celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter to discuss his latest work, Grand Finale, a bold new piece featuring 10 dancers and six musicians.
As concisely as possible, can you describe Grand Finale?
Grand Finale is a work for ten dancers and six musicians, with a beautiful set made by Tom Scott, and beautiful lighting design made by Tom Visler. It’s very hard to describe, but the work is a very multi-layered piece that has a lot of music, a lot of movement, a lot of different layers and elements to it. In general terms, it deals with that feeling of something coming to an end, and with how maybe people deal with that feeling on a personal level.
Where did the idea and inspiration for the piece come from?
The idea and inspiration for Grand Finale, like always when I make work, comes from around me and inside me. I look at the things that interest me or bother me or excite me or are bubbling inside me; questions and feelings; and ideas and playfulness... I bring those ideas to the studio, explore them with the dancers. The inspiration is from a very immediate reality around and inside me
Grand Finale has been described as ‘a vision of a world in freefall’. What drew you to this theme at this particular moment? Are you commenting on our current contemporary landscape?
I think what drew me to deal with that particular feeling of a lack of control or something coming to an end, is that feeling that I think a lot of people have at the moment that things in the world are getting out of hand, and out of control. Whether that’s true or not, whether things are actually falling apart or whether it’s just part of a cycle of panic I don’t know. I wanted to try revealing that layer of confusion around that feeling
How and where will the piece be staged?
The piece will be staged in the Brighton Dome.
This will be the final performance of Grand Finale following a successful tour. Has the piece changed or developed during the touring process?
Throughout our tour of Grand Finale, which has been a very long one, we’ve tweaked the work all time, we keep on trying to make it better. Whenever I have spare studio time I try to make some adjustments, editing, corrections and so on. We are constantly working on the piece. Grand Finale is a very complex piece, we could work on it for ten years and still not completely finish it. However, the heart is there, and the focus is good, but the feeling that it could be more focused and become more powerful and more concise is still there too!
What do you hope audiences will take away from the piece?
We’re bringing the work to Brighton where we’ve performed many times. The Brighton audience is very familiar with my work, and I think it’s quite close their heart. I hope that people really connect to Grand Finale.
Some people could come out of the performance and say something like “ah, there’s no hope”, and some people could come out and say, “wow that’s really invigorating", and that there’s something about human spirit, the fighting human spirit that is “really inspiring”. So obviously I’ll be happy if people experience that very powerful feeling, but I’m fine if people feel despair as well. Despair is an important step towards hope, you know? An important step towards doing something, so I’m fine with either! One way or another, it’s nice when people have a response to your work.
You have a long history with Brighton Festival as Associate company and then as Guest Director in 2014. What does it mean to you to be back at Brighton Festival for this commission?
We’ve been associate company at the Brighton Dome, and I was Guest Festival Director a few years back, so Brighton is a very special place to us. Like I said before, I feel quite close with the audience there – a lot of people have reached out to me – who I don’t know personally, but that atmosphere, that feeling that we are coming home, that we are coming back after a long tour of work is very special. It’s always very special to be in Brighton and I’m sure it’s going to be a very energetic and buzzy performance – so I’m really looking forward to it.