Last night Hofesh Shecter wowed the audience with their new production ‘Sun’ in the Lyric Theatre. Here is dance ambassador Rachel Pollitt’s review of the show.
What exactly are an audience expecting to see in a piece entitled ‘Sun’? Something bright, light and easy? Well this was certainly a starting point for Israeli born choreographer Hofesh Shechter; but be warned, while the sun may be magnificent and almighty, there is a dangerous side to it, and it soon becomes clear to the audience that it is this dangerous side that Shechter chooses to explore.
The piece is very fragmented, switching quickly from large unison sections containing all 15 dancers, to one man owning the stage and even the use of large sheep puppets – yes! Although confusing to many audience members at first, the significance of the puppets eventually grew clearer. Sheep have connotations of innocence and stupidity and so to an audience, seeing these animals, lulls them into a false sense of security, which was soon to become greatly contrasted by the new puppet – a wolf. The wolf represents fear. This is another key theme in Shechter’s work as he explores the idea that everyone is afraid of something, even if it is just the unknown. The music accompanying this scene was breath taking and helped the tension to escalate. Throughout the whole of Shechter’s piece it feels as if the loud, chaotic score is almost an omniscient presence that observes the dancer’s torment and energizes it.
Lighting was always going to be an essential tool to a piece entitled ‘Sun’ and as an audience member it is clear to see that Shechter has put a lot of thought behind its meaning, indeed some of the most intriguing messages were revealed through different uses of light. The ‘sun’ acts as a recurrent theme of danger and warning, emphasised by the effective set design which included about one hundred small, hanging light bulbs. The dancers were aware of these bulbs at times and a particularly interesting motif was depicted when a dancer became aware of just one flickering light bulb above him. The flickering light symbolised the dancer’s frustration as he plunged into a frantic routine of mad switches and wild arm throwing, the effect of which was increased by his baggy clothes and distressed groans. The sun’s power has been uncovered at its fullest and the audience recognises its true nature as the piece draws to a close.
Hofesh begins his piece by giving the audience a glance of the end of the piece, reassuring them that ‘everything is going to be ok’. Only at the end of the piece, when confronted with the same clip of movement again, does the audience recognise the cruel irony of this trick – as everything is certainly not ok.
Among the many messages, one which can drawn from Shechter’s ‘Sun’ is this; whilst the sun may illuminate the good, both in us and around us, it also illuminates the bad, and once the bad has been revealed there is no retreating back into the shadow.
Rachel Pollitt – Lowry Youth Dance Ambassador