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Who is Hofesh Shechter?

Having Hofesh Shechter as the opening event in our brand new venue is a big event. So who is he, and why are he and his company so important in the dance world?

Who is he?
Israel-born Hofesh Shechter was introduced to dance at the age of 15 when he saw his country’s contemporary dance group. He formed the Hofesh Shechter Company in 2008, and the company is now at the cutting edge of contemporary dance. But he’s not afraid of shaking up the dance world and he has a healthy cynicism for the art-form. “We set out to challenge preconceptions of the possibilities of live performance and through this, to inspire young people to invest their time and energy in the arts,” he says.

Was he hooked on contemporary dance instantly?
Yes, he sure was. It opened up “an endless ocean of possibilities,” he told Sarah Walters in this fascinating Manchester Evening News interview.

So who has he worked with, and where?
After its formation seven years ago, the company rapidly established an international reputation. He’s since worked with, amongst others, Sadler’s Wells, the Brighton Festival, the Barbican, the Melbourne Festival, the Royal Court Theatre, the National Theatre, and the Metropolitan Opera, New York. He has also ventured into TV, choreographing sequences on Channel 4’s Skins.

He’s clearly an in-demand performer, but isn’t his chosen art-form, contemporary dance, somewhat misunderstood?
“It’s an awkward artform,” he acknowledged to Susie Stubbs of Creative Tourist. “It can get self-absorbed and self-endorsed. I believe that any artform should attempt to communicate something. It doesn’t have to be about big ideas, but what happens on the stage should connect with the audience and share something with them. It has to communicate stomach to stomach, it has to connect to emotion and be an experience that is beyond words – and beyond whatever the supposed ‘rules’ of an artform are.”

What can we expect when the company performs tHE bAD here at HOME this week?
“We wanted people to come to a contemporary dance show and realise that anything is possible; the best and worst thing about contemporary dance is you can never know what to expect when you walk into the theatre,” he added in her Manchester Evening News interview. “You walk in with fear and dread – but, you know, something will surprise you. For me that’s the most exciting thing we can advocate about contemporary dance. You have good shows and bad ones, but it WILL surprise you and take you to places you can’t imagine… I hope the whole evening will give people that raw, animalistic feeling.”

So what’s next for the company?
There’s clearly no limit to the company’s artistic horizons – Hofesh will be co-directing his first opera piece later this year, Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, with John Fulljames, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, at the Royal Opera House.

And what’s this about Hofesh working with the next generation of contemporary dancers?
There is all this talent,” he told The Stage recently, “and what are we doing with it?” He recently launched Shechter Junior, a new apprentice company of eight young dancers, who will train and perform with the company. Over 1000 would-be dancers auditioned, eight of them were selected, and two of them – Ayelet Nadav from Israel, and Kenny Wing Tao Ho, from Mansfield – will be on our stage this weekend. How fantastic is that?

Hofesh Shechter and Friends runs between Thu 30 April – Sat 2 May. Find out more and book your tickets here.