Rock meets dance in Arts Festival highlight (+video)

By Chris Schulz

A scene from Hofesh Shechter's Political Mother.
A scene from Hofesh Shechter's Political Mother.

Modern rock music isn't something you'd expect to find influencing contemporary dance.

But with loud guitars, pounding drums and strobe lighting, that's exactly what acclaimed choreographer Hofesh Shechter is aiming for in his piece Political Mother, being performed as part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival in Wellington.

"I'm hoping for people to have an emotional experience ... like they're watching a dream sequence," Shechter told nzherald.co.nz.

"Take it like a music concert. You don't expect to walk in and experience something that you can put into a sentence. I'm giving them a place to drown in the music and the imagery."

With music tastes ranging from Pink Floyd to Rage Against the Machine and "folky, gypsy, Arab, Jewish music", it's no surprise the Israeli-born, London-based choreographer likes to overwhelm his audiences with "craziness".

"It's like sitting on a fast train, watching images with loud music, being thrown from one thing to another to allow people to lose themselves inside the experience - rather than coming out with a lesson."

Political Mother has earned rave reviews since its 2010 debut - the Daily Telegraph called it "hair-prickingly exhilarating" - and has been touring around the world ever since.

But Shechter - who spent a year putting the show together, including four months composing all of the music - says audiences respond to the 70-minute work in different ways.

"When we performed in Japan there was a very reserved reaction, very cold, I didn't understand it. But this theatre had this system where people get a questionnaire (and) they had an amazing response.

"A crazy amount of people filled out this form, they really packed all their emotions in once they put it on paper. People had a very powerful experience."

Shechter admits dance traditionalists might find his work off-putting - Political Mother comes with a warning about the strobe lighting - but says there is still a "sense of excitement" around the work.

"It's a powerful show so of course there are people that it won't be to their tastes. But there is a good buzz around it.

"I'm trying to allow people to lose themselves in this experience."

Political Mother is on from 8pm at Wellington's St James Theatre until Sunday.

What: Political Mother
Where: St James Theatre, Wellington
When: March 8-11
More information and tickets: Click here

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