September 25, 2020
It may be called Untitled and it may be only ten minutes, but this haunting Hofesh Shechter short, remade from the 2005 Bare Bones original, evokes so many feelings.
Watched via Zoom and performed eight times over two days, Shechter uses the technology to make viewers part of the work and to give them an immersive experience. In the introduction to the show, they are asked to ensure their camera is on. That’s important since it is live images of the audience that form the backdrop to the dance happening at the Lantern Studio Theatre in London’s Docklands. Watching the giant Zoom gallery, you spot all sorts of reactions, including one person reduced to tears. I get it, I really do.
Shechter introduces himself over the electronic noise that he himself composed. As dancer Rachel Fallon stands in front of us in her three-sided box, Shechter introduces himself. In his gravelly voice, he explains that he will guide us through the piece, “Just to make sure you understand it.” Turning to Fallon, there is something ominous about the way Shechter refers to her as “my dancer”. It’s a phrase repeated several times.
Untitled is a dance of three sections: Love, Life and Death. In Love, Fallon slides with ease across the floor. She twists and turns. She stands and looks at us. Together but distanced. It may be called love but there is a sense of pain and anguish.
Life is about, “Something…er…yeah,” says Shechter, seemingly lost for words. The camerawork throughout is quite superb and now it closes in on Fallon’s feet as she gingerly tiptoes around the space like we might tiptoe through life. There’s Shechter’s ever-present stomp, arms raised; and she runs, round and round, getting nowhere fast. A silent scream too. “This is my dancer Elisabetta,” we hear again.
And so, to Death. Unexpectedly, Fallon disappears. Despite Shechter’s plea that “Without you, my piece is just an empty room,” she never does return. An empty room, though? Yes and no. We may all be there in one way, but the sense is one of distance and desolation, of being trapped in a nightmare with no escape. As the camera pans around the digital faces looking on from who knows where, feelings are writ large. “Faces never lie,” we hear. “Life can be f****** hard.” Tell me about it. Tell a lot of people about it right now.
Gripping, Quite, quite gripping.
For details of more Hofesh Shechter Company screenings, visit www.hofesh.co.uk