the barbarians in love

The Barbarians in Love (hofesh shechter)

Sadlers Wells, 2015


Inspired by the complex beauty of baroque music, Hofesh Shechter’s The Barbarians in Love tells of a sparse world in which six dancers move with mathematical precision and passion. Led by a female voiceover and against a soundtrack of baroque string music and electronic hums, six dancers emerge on stage from the haze. The voiceover gives them numbered lessons, urging control and repression.

The dancers shift from weighted contemporary moves to clean ballet positions; a reminder that Schechter is exploring a new style and will be creating a work for the Royal Ballet later this season.

Midway, the voice starts teasing the choreographer. Perhaps the most memorable ruse being “It’s not all about you, Hofesh.” His ramblings suggest a mid life crisis, as he waffles about innocence and his urge to avoid cliché. Later, he finally confesses to infidelity. Shechter’s recorded voice is deliberately inarticulate and clumsy, but, nonetheless self indulgent. The voice has already described “dancing naked in front of a crowd” as the height of embarrassment and so, it is no surprise, that the closing sequence is just that: in different degrees of naked, staring out at us, they shuffle back into the darkness.


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