Saturday, December 10, 2022

Dead and Alive: Double Murder by the UK’S Hofesh Shechter Company

The Hofesh Shechter Company performing Clowns. (Photo: Todd MacDonald)

Terrific. It’s a word denoting terror and intensity of experience. Both meanings apply to the Hofesh Shechter Company’s Double Murder program that slayed all who saw it at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre at the end of October. Divided into two parts and presented as part of the ongoing Torque series of international dance, Double Murder plumbs the anxiety and dread of the pandemic with an imagination as fearless as it is foreboding. 

Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, a resident of London who is an assistant artist at the city’s Sadler’s Wells dance organization, created the concept of the double bill during the lockdowns, later saying he wanted to present a brace of contrasting dances “for our times.” 

Clowns, with its relentless depictions of slit throats, brute rapes and shots to the head, came first, debuting in 2016 when the world was still healthy enough to digest an onslaught of deadly ironic imagery. It’s absurdist theatre constructed as a punch of a dance. Shechter in his program notes describes it as anarchic. The Fix, a recent work now following Clowns as part of an expanded 90-minute program, softens the blows. Concluding with a group hug, it is about togetherness, not turbulence, redemption, not moral rot.