Cult – Hofesh Shechter On Making Statements Through Dance

  • Written by 
  • Friday, 14 May 2021 09:50
Published in Arts  
'THREE' by Australasian Dance Collective 'THREE' by Australasian Dance Collective Image © Justin Ridler

As part of the Australasian Dance Collective’s production ‘THREE’, Queensland – and the country – will be treated to the premiere performance of ‘Cult’ the seminal work from renowned Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter.


'Cult' is a work from early on in Hofesh’s career, having been conceived in 2004. Created “as a response to the world around it”, ‘Cult’ features six dancers making a bold statement, still relevant today, as to the rawness and integrity of the emotional depth of which it delivers.

There is a way in which 'Cult' has been able to stand up differently because of the personal nature of its conception, particularly when compared to Hofesh’s more recent works, such as ‘In Your Rooms’ and ‘Grand Finale’. “Choreographically you can expect it’s more simple,” Hofesh says. “In a way, I was still discovering my movement language, what interested me in movement, trying to find the inner spark of movement.”

“A lot of the energy and the subject that 'Cult' is dealing with, I keep on working on all my life. There is evidently something about the group mentality, the group pressure, group oppression and the inescapable feeling of one who wants to belong.

“These are a lot of elements you can see in my work – the artist tries to express what is burning inside, but the way I try to do it, I’m trying to look out from life at different angles.”

For Hofesh, there is something in the beauty of the piece that is somewhere between raw and structured. “There is something of purity,” he says, “and for people who know my work, they will recognise this very much.”

CultRehearse JadeFerguson
Rehearsals for 'Cult' - Image © Jade Ferguson

“They will recognise the darkness, the rawness, the humour, the sarcasm. It’s kind of all there in a very round and raw way.

“As a young choreographer wanting to make a work that would make a point – I’m older now and more curious about discovering more and more internal and external emotions – but back then, it was about trying to make a point. The truth is, you never know what the point is until you finish your work.”

Hofesh has been nothing if not marked by passion to find something that would be equal parts powerful, passionate, and would make a statement – for him, 'Cult' was it. His work on the production was, in many ways, a journey into self-exploration, too, that continues to this day.

In developing his “movement language” – and in having something of an altruistic identity, too – something Hofesh looks for in those he casts to perform 'Cult' is to have that same organic mindset as he has. “The one thing I really want to see is what I hold for myself – making a work that delivers something I am interested about, that I care about. For me, from that experience, you learn from every work – it’s hard to put it into words, what you’re learning – but I think it’s namely connected to myself.”

“The other thing is, and I see this in choreography competitions, somebody else might be able to judge what’s working better than another.

“But I think the real benefit is reminding an artist that he’s making his work to share with other people – for me and the performers – my work is something [in which] I want to share the emotions, the sensations, the thoughts, everything that is created is something that has to be communicated with other people in order for them to have a powerful experience through that.”

’Cult' is part of 'THREE', presented by Australasian Dance Collective at Queensland Performing Arts Centre 26-29 May.

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