Political Mother

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

08/03/2012 - 11/03/2012

New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

Following a meteoric rise to become one of the hottest properties in modern dance, Hofesh Shechter brings his unmistakable style to New Zealand for the first time.

Since its debut in 2010 Political Mother has built a collection of glowing reviews that would be the envy of any dance company in the world. This forceful work from Israeli-born and UK-based Hofesh Shechter is that good, that affecting.

Light and dark, hope and despair, tranquillity and chaos, they all crash together as Shechter explores themes of power, repression and war. This is modern dance for the mainstream – every moment a new and exhilarating assault on the senses.

From its brutally powerful opening scene to the fall of the curtain, Political Mother holds you in its grasp. An ensemble cast of ten dancers executes dazzling sequences of movement; shuffling dejectedly around the stage at one moment, leaping in joyous freedom the next. High above them a band of live musicians delivers Shechter’s electrifying and diverse soundtrack, punctuated by rhythmic military drums and blazing electric guitars.

Political Mother has enjoyed acclaimed seasons on the major dance stages of Europe. Now it’s your chance to experience the production that the world is raving about.


Tickets: $38-$88

 Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

Dancers Maëva Berthelot, Winifred Burnet-Smith, Chien-Ming Chang, Sam Coren, Frédéric Despierre, Laura de Vos, Karima el Amrani, Christopher Evans, James Finnemore, Bruno Karim Guillore, Philip Hulford, Jason Jacobs, Yeji Kim, Erion Kruja, Sita Ostheimer, Hannah Shepherd

The Band Christopher Allan (Cello), Rebekah Allan (Viola), Laura Anstee (Cello), Joseph Ashwin (Guitar), Chopper (Drums), John Crockatt (Viola), Jub Davis (Double Bass), Yaron Engler (Drums, Bendir), Dominic Goundar (Drums), Alison Gillies (Cello), Joel Harries (Guitar), Tim Harries (Bass Guitar), Edward Hoare (Drums), Norman Jankowski (Drums, Pandeiro), James Keane (Drums), Moshik Kop (Drums), Vincenzo Lamagna (Guitar), Bethan Lewis (Viola), Andrew Maddick (Guitar, Viola), Richard Phillips (Cello), Desmond Neysmith (Cello), Jordi Riera (Drums), Natasha Zielazinski (Cello)

1hr 10 mins

Tornado of dance's final masterstroke

Review by Jennifer Shennan 12th Mar 2012

This tornado skips, trembles, crashes and searches through 70 minutes of bleak yet somehow resilient theatre.

A group of dancers – males and females, many ethnicities – represents us all, perhaps.

There is a curious quality of movement in their opening sequences, with many steps and skips propelled upwards, the means by which a folk dance conveys light.

There are other movements in sombre shadows to convey shade. Arms are lifted but hands stay softly curved and open, to embellish rhythmic nuances also layered through many a folk dance.

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Stunning choreographic choices and execution

Review by Lyne Pringle 09th Mar 2012

Political Mother

Much anticipated great expectations. Met? Yes!
This work is gritty, relentless and compelling.
At the core, pulsating, after the ancient warrior falls on his sword in the murkiness of time and writhes gasping to death to Verdi, in front of the five percussionist in military finery with shining buttons and five pounding guitarists suspended half way to the fly tower and a figure with an old- fashioned microphone, an incomprehensible every dictator that humanity has created through our history, morphing into a death metal, punk front man … is … the … DANCE!

Drawing from a recognisable physicality of Jewishness – how is that we know this to be so?
How is it that this physicality is so pervasive in our consciousness?
How is it that this genius choreographer can manifest the complexity of a race of people in exquisite phrases of movement that evokes the folk dance of ancients and transports us through time?
These questions are what compel the work and our interest; I have never felt such a visceral compulsion from choreographic content.

Coupled with this is the INCREDIBLE use of rhythm – it is then not surprising to know that Hofesh Schechter –choreographer/composer is a drummer.
The combination of sound and movement makes us feel the music and hear the choreography – the kind of sweet tension that comes from listening to a good Stevie Wonder riff!! Great musicians live onstage, superb lighting.

Sometimes though the stage is left blank; a pause, time to listen to Bach and watch shafts of light, time to cleanse the eye and begin afresh with the human form onstage.

Running sequences morph into furious bouts of choreography with crafting so good and dancing so beautifully focussed, felt and delivered with such integrity and artistry, it brings a tear to the eye.  These dancers are utterly incredible, divinity made manifest in human form with shoulders slightly hunched, head forward and eyes down; their souls reach out to the audience.  The arms are held in supplication, the feet trudge glued to the earth until sudden frenetic bursts of intricate arm gestures explode into phenomenal movement poems that occasionally lift from the ground.  Later these deliciously articulate bodies explore the earth in a tender terrestrial massage.

The folk dance is the glue, when the body can take no more and all structures have been demolished, when people can flee for their lives no more, the body of its own accord returns to the comfort and simplicity of holding hands and moving in circle or line with others or moving in common space to common rhythm:  manifested these days in rock concert/rave transportation to a communal sense of purpose.

Dance becomes the island of rest, sanity, recovery, heart replenishing place of movement/ stillness; the oasis in the midst of repeating patterns of senselessness. It in the end is all we have – the ability to dance together.

The message in this work is that urgent, that desperate and imperative.

Driving today listening to the radio and hearing about the US moving its military might to the Pacific to stave off aggression from China in the region, I want to stop in the middle of the traffic – leap out of the car and dance in desperation.
How do we negotiate these ancient patterns of aggression, territoriality and animal instinct for survival of the fittest, into something that doesn’t equate to WAR?

I become a crazy Political Mother holding up traffic at the Basin Reserve trying to get everybody to dance to Joni Mitchell – Its clouds illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.

The smoke haze used in the show stung my eyes and throat, the tempo and energy at the beginning of the show was exhilaratingly unsustainable, the music, loud intense, the structure of the piece not entirely satisfying, the darkness challenging and difficult. The ending pulls the emotional strings with Joni Mitchell but the stunning choreographic choices and execution during this song lift the dance into an entirely new realm. I cry.

This was extraordinary theatre and dance. I would throw myself to the wolves, lie down in heavy traffic, and fight through a swarm of wasps to experience choreography and performance this good.

See this show!!!

Lissa Twomey and team deserve congratulations for their risky and brave programming.
Birds With Sky Mirrors for the aesthetic heart, Tezuka for the hopeful heart and Political Mother for the heart of grief.


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