A conversation with choreographer Hofesh Shechter about his work and the purpose of dance is surprisingly candid. A refreshing antidote to the pretence that often surrounds internationally successful choreographers.

Grand Finale, Adelaide Festival Grand Finale. Photo © Rahi Rezvani

“It’s dance. You don’t come out of the theatre and go ‘oh I understand something about the world’,” says the Israeli-born, London-based choreographer. “It doesn’t work like that. You come, you feel a bunch of stuff and you leave. There are no conclusions.”

Such pragmatism may be surprising, especially coming as it does from someone whose body of work features pieces with titles such as  Uprising, Cult and  Political Mother, and whose early days as a dancer
in Israel were far from apolitical.

At the age of 18, compulsory military conscription interrupted Shechter’s dance training; something he describes as “an electrical short circuit in my brain”. The institutionalisation and loss of independence left a lasting impression on the young dancer, who fulfilled his service duties during the day and rehearsed with Batsheva Dance Company at night.

An abrupt departure from Israel in 2002 in search of something new led Shechter to London, where he would later establish his eponymous company. A rich...