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Choreographer Hofesh Shechter on his new work: “Music is the reason I do dance.”

Published 9 May 2016 at 14:20 by Daphne Prochowski

Tangled, pulsating bodies, energetic and raw. The Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) has reeled in a choreographer with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude, Hofesh Shechter. Shechter (Israel, 1975) makes energetic, uplifting pieces fit for many dancers, and writes his own, often intense music to match. “We are all connected, this is something strong to show on stage.”


Shechter is a dancer, a percussionist, a choreographer, an entrepreneur. He started folk dance as a teenager, which was swiftly followed by music and theatre school and at only twenty years old, he was accepted at the Bastheva Dance Company – one of the world’s most progressive modern dance companies. He lived in Paris, studied percussion and played in a rock band. Later, he found himself in England, where he broke through in 2007 and has since then set up his own Hofesh Shechter Company in Brighton. Last year, he made Untouchable, a piece for the Royal Ballet in London. This year, NDT managed to get their hands on him. His work, Clowns, was premiered in April. We asked him a couple of questions.

You are a musician, a dancer and a choreographer. How is communicating through dance different from communicating through music?

“Music for me defines the atmosphere and the ‘feel’ of the work. It is another element that sweeps us into the work, the paints and colour our experience of what we see- music is extremely emotional to me, unexplainable, and when connected strongly with a visual it gives a total experience that is very powerful. For me the music the dance and the lighting of the work are inseparable.”

Making dance is about focusing energy into physical being. That’s the essence of it, and in my experience, that’s when it is in its strongest form both for performer and spectator.”

In modern dance music seems often just used to set the atmosphere and seems disconnected from the moving bodies. How do you deal with that in your practice?

“I create the music whilst creating the dance piece, in the same period. The two elements are used equally to create a world, an atmosphere, and I work to fit these two worlds in a way that they strengthen each other – the music is supportive and inspirational to the dance and vice versa.”

“Music is the reason I do dance. That’s it. I love the feeling when music is played in a theatre. It just gives me a thrill… It can create an atmosphere, it can create rules, it can create thoughts, it can take you somewhere in a split second.”

Why do you use so many dancers in your pieces?

I believe that we are all connected: we are one, a mumble of individuality. This is something strong to show on stage. It’s like an introspective of the world, where every organism is made out of a lot of organisms inside it. I like that feeling. It’s about how an individual survives in an environment that is either crashing, attacking or driving him.  

What is your new piece, Clowns, about?

“The programme note will tell you everything you need to know…”

.In that city

Where ways are lost

Clown turn into King

Prophet turn to clown….

(Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass)


On Wednesday 11 May and Friday 13 May, We Are Public members can attend the event Separate Ways by the NDT, which includes Shechter’s Clowns.

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