(EN) FvF Mixtape #147: Hofesh Shechter
(EN) The Israeli choreographer curates a playlist featuring tracks by Bon Iver, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles, London
Mixtapes > (EN) FvF Mixtape #147: Hofesh Shechter

(EN) Hofesh Shechter explains how he creates music and movement simultaneously, and discusses the effectiveness of presenting dance in a rock concert format.

(EN) Hunched backs and flicking wrists, post-apocalyptic scenes, and booming music fusing Israeli folk influences with rock-like rhythms characterize the performances of Hofesh Shechter. The choreographer-cum-composer is one of the most talked-about talents in the U.K. and indeed internationally. Known by many as winning a Tony award for his choreography for Bartlet Sher’s Fiddler on the Roof revival on Broadway, he is renowned for the way he uses his unique animalistic movement language to create intense, post-apocalyptic worlds on stage. Set to dark, rhythmic, and punchy scores often of his own creation—many of which are performed live on stage—his shows are often more comparable to rock concerts than your average contemporary dance show.

Originally from Jerusalem, Shechter trained under renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin—the protagonist of popular feature documentary Mr. Gaga—before moving to Paris to study music and play drums in a rock band called The Human Beings. He then moved across the channel to the U.K. to dance for fellow Isreali choreographer Jasmin Vardimon in her politically-fueled dance theater productions. This varied artistic education has informed his current role as the director of his own London-based contemporary dance company, as well as an internationally renowned guest choreographer and composer for a variety of renowned dance companies around the world. Below, he discusses his process of creating music for dance performances, the creatives who have influenced his work, and how he chose the tracks for this FvF Mixtape.

(EN) How did you first get into music and dance and when did you decide to start combining the two in your practice?

(EN) I started studying piano at the age of six. I loved it, particularly making up little tunes and recording them on my tape recorder. I never practiced much, but playing the piano—as well as developing an obsession with listening to my dad’s record collection—initiated my love of music. I then got into dance through folk dancing, and slowly after that discovered contemporary dance. Eventually, through becoming a choreographer, I found a way to combine my two passions by creating music for my dance pieces.

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(EN) “There is a symbiotic relationship between the dance and the music where they keep affecting and inspiring each other.”

(EN) How did you first get into music and dance and when did you decide to start combining the two in your practice?

(EN) I started studying piano at the age of six. I loved it, particularly making up little tunes and recording them on my tape recorder. I never practiced much, but playing piano—as well as developing an obsession with listening to my dad’s record collection—initiated my love of music. I then got into dance through folk dancing, and slowly after that discovered contemporary dance. Eventually, through becoming a choreographer, I found a way to combine my two passions by creating music for my dance pieces.

(EN) Can you explain your creative process when you’re creating music for your stage shows? What comes first the sound or the movement?

(EN) When making music for a new piece of dance I start looking for sounds to help me create the right texture and atmosphere. I always have something in my head that very rarely translates into reality, but the process of searching for sounds that fit my feeling is one that produces a lot of options. When I find a sound that captures the right essence, or inspires me, I hang onto it, bring it to the dance studio, put it onto a continuous loop, and create movements to it. Then there is a symbiotic relationship between the dance and the music where they keep affecting and inspiring each other. It’s a complex and chaotic process of structuring two elements simultaneously.

(EN) Many of your pieces are now shown in your unique part gig, part contemporary dance show format, in which a live rock band perform onstage alongside the dancers to a standing audience. What do you think is so effective about showcasing contemporary dance in this context?

(EN) Taking contemporary dance out of the usual theater setting creates a different relationship with the audience. They audience can respond more freely and physically to the show. They can be more involved and engaged.

(EN) What influences your work, both choreographically and musically?

(EN) My influences range from film makers such as director Stanley Kubrick and writer Charlie Kaufman, to dance makers such as Ohad Naharin, Pina Bausch and William Forsythe. My musical influences include Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bach, Peter Gabriel and so many more.

(EN) How did you select the songs in your playlist?

(EN) I was trying to think about music that inspired me, both in the sense of content and energy, and also in the way they use sounds. The texture of all these songs have something unique. At times they are complex and layered, at others they are very simple. They all give a strong sense of place and atmosphere.

(EN) Hofesh Shechter OBE is an Israeli-born, London-based choreographer and composer. Currently an associate of Sadler’s Wells theater, he creates choreographic works and atmospheric musical scores for his own company, as well as for internationally renowned dance companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Batsheva Ensemble, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, and Paris Opera Ballet, to name a few.

If you want to listen to more curated playlists from international artists, head over to our Mixtape section.

Text: Emily May
Photography: Rahi Rezvani