It’s not often that your jaw drops with the opening sequence of a performance, but drop it did at last night’s performance at Sadler’s Wells.
Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother opened in 2010 to wild acclaim and then had the Choreographer’s Cut treatment in 2011, where more dancers and musicians were added to bulk things out and create that extra punch to the gut. Visually, it’s astounding: a shield of musicians take over the back wall in a pyramid of noise, rocking and gyrating as though headlining a festival main stage (fronted by a frankly terrifying singer), and the 16-strong troop of dancers prance, twitch and galvanise in mesmerising fashion with some refreshingly unique steps. The brutal energy of this piece is astounding, with sound physically hitting your body – don’t go if you’re afraid of noise.
So what is it about? Concepts of oppression, dictatorships, war and terror are all there, with, dare we say it, apocalyptic undertones of concentration camps and dystopian worlds, but there’s playfulness and humour too. It’s an amalgamation of prisoners, soldiers, folk dance and fear, with balletic arms en haute eerily transformed to arms in the air at the point of a gun – tense and completely absorbing. Israeli-born Shechter is master of his art here with impeccable choreography and musical composition, and a truly assertive grasp on his dancers and musicians alike.
This is already the second run of the Choreographer’s Cut and potentially the last, so get a ticket quickly, preferably a standing one which gets you closest to the stage and where the atmosphere is headiest. It’s quite a different experience to your average dance performance; a pioneering example of the power of sight and sound combined.
Political Mother: Choreographer’s Cut is running now at Sadler’s Wells, Roseberry Avenue, EC1R 4TN until 7 July. Tickets start at £10 (standing). Visit sadlerswells.com for more information. Londonist saw this performance on a complimentary press ticket.