Hofesh Shechter talks about his return to BAM with Sun

Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter returns to BAM with his latest dance Sun

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Time Out New York: The music is all over the place, from what I understand. Do you like to use an eclectic score?
Hofesh Shechter:
Yeah. That’s something I love. Maybe in the future I will make a piece with one track or style. The other thing is, there’s a question of whether it lends itself to the subject, to the flow, to the tension in the piece, and I find that it does. Part of the ambivalence of the piece is represented by the music that is there. But I always enjoy playing with eclectic sounds.

Time Out New York: How do you build a score?
Hofesh Shechter:
It’s happening while I am choreographing and it’s little by little. It’s a real nightmare. I bring stuff to the studio and I come back home and I tweak the music and think, Oh, I can add this, I can deduct that—it’s a conversation between the score and the choreography until they settle and I find the right connection. There’s a lot of editing work and searching for sounds, for melodies—it’s a real time and energy-consuming thing to deal with the score, which I love but it’s really doing two jobs at the same time so it’s pretty demanding.

Time Out New York: Do you throw on different kinds of music at the start of the process when you’re working on building phrases with the dancers?
Hofesh Shechter:
Yeah. Sometimes I’m trying different music. I’m trying to build something with one music and then dance it with a different one. We try everything. You try until something works. But, yes, I love that. It refreshes the energy. In this, there is some percussive music, some strings, guitars, but it mostly goes from classical to percussive.
 
Time Out New York: Why did you go in that direction?
Hofesh Shechter:
It was creating this tension between a world that can be very playful and beautiful, but also powerful and ominous. The music really contributed to that. It’s also part of the playful nature of the piece. The piece is cheeky, so it’s unafraid to jump from one thing to another. It makes us, as an audience, feel perhaps more comfortable with it—like we are playing with the piece as well. We are part of the game.

Time Out New York: You’re not in this piece, are you?
Hofesh Shechter:
No, no, thank God, no. I’m 38. [Laughs] I would love to be in this piece. I think it would be really fun, but I have a lot on my plate so I’m not dancing.

Time Out New York: When did you begin dancing?
Hofesh Shechter:
I started to dance when I was 11 or 12. I grew up folk-dancing in Jerusalem, so we had folk dancing once a week at school from the age of six and when I was 11 or 12, I joined the junior folk-dancing company in Jerusalem, and that was the first step I made to take it a bit more seriously. When I was 15, I joined the school of the academy for music and dance in Jerusalem, and that was another step to take it more seriously. At 15, I started to take classical ballet and Graham.

Time Out New York: Did you like it?
Hofesh Shechter:
I loved it. When I joined the folk-dance company, I really loved it. I really loved the physical challenge and I was kind of shy; I wanted to get better with feeling all right with myself dancing, moving in front of people, expressing myself and being more free. I loved the social aspect of it. Being with people and working with people. I was sent to study piano from the age of six. I knew the side of working on something on your own alone in a room, and I really didn’t like that, so dance was completely liberating in that sense. The academy was a dream school for me—musicians and dancers, everything was around art, so it was very special.

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