Virgin Atlantic Festival – London in Tel Aviv 2019

Grand Finale – Hofesh Shechter/Photo: Rahi Rezvani

The Virgin Atlantic Festival – London in Tel Aviv was announced September 16, 2019 in a press meeting that took place at the Israeli Opera – Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. The festival, which will take place from November 27 – 30, 2019, was initiated by British businessman Marc Worth, following the success of the TLV in LDN festival which he organized in 2017, fostering the cultural exchange and connection between the two countries. Participating in the press meeting were Mark Power, Deputy British Ambassador to Israel, choreographer Hofesh Shechter, and Doron Rabina, Chief Curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The festival will feature dance, theatre, film, music, art, and culinary delights from the United Kingdom.

A highlight of today’s press meeting was Hofesh Shechter’s discussion of his latest work, Grand Finale, which premiered in June 2017, and will be presented at the festival.*

Hofesh Shechter: “It’s difficult to talk about a dance work, Grand Finale communicates in a language related to trauma, to a kind of helplessness and flood of information.  There’s a general feeling of things falling apart, our own, and of the world around us. I try to create a work that is, perhaps abstract is not the right word… but poetic. I put things onstage to make people think, feel, and meet, but I don’t try to say something specific, I don’t have an agenda. It’s not a political work as people sometimes try to label it.”

“Technically it is a work for 10 dancers and 5 musicians. There is a large set made of walls that move on the stage, and there is a sense of constant change onstage – situations, energies. There is a sense of drowning, of the dancers, a sense of being swept away. The musicians appear in different places on the stage always holding a sort of ner neshama, a kind of humanity, while the dancers are in a kind of process of disintegration all the time. It’s a work that is close to my heart and reflects many feelings that I have.”

“The title Grand Finale is a slightly humorous reference to classical ballet, creating something grandiose with the sense of an end of things, and also sarcastic about the kind of renaissance that we are experiencing in world culture, a renaissance that leads to an end – we waste, we burn, we don’t really think ahead. There is a kind of celebration that consumes itself. In Grand Finale there is a strong presence of death onstage, a kind of game with bodies, dead bodies, the bodies of the dancers playing at death and making dead bodies dance. There is the feeling that it is all a game, a big party with no thought of the future – and we’re going to crash.”

Much of the score for Grand Finale was composed by Hofesh Shechter, who studied piano as a child. He stated that influences of Jewish and Israeli melodies can be heard in the music, as well as the influence of Israeli dances, saying, “I entered the world of dance through folk dancing and it brings people together, it connects them. It’s an interesting message when you bring it within the context of contemporary dance. I steal from everything [referring to different genres] without shame – whatever works, whatever makes people feel, I put it on the stage…[in regard to music] I look for sounds that interest me, that convey the right atmosphere. I worked closely with my musicians, improvising.”

In addition to Grand Finale, festival events will include: The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet’s Big Adventure; a joint concert by British cellist Natalie Klein and Israeli composer-conductor and pianist Gil Shochat; an exhibit of Rachel Maclean’s Spite Your Face at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art which will also host an exhibit of Karen Russo’s work; TEDER will host The Urban Sounds of London with Donna Leake, Lava La Rue, Ms Banks and more; outdoor music performances and food booths with traditional British cuisine; and films.

Virgin Atlantic Festival – London in Tel Aviv

November 27 – 30, 2019. Initiated by Marc Worth; production: Tali and Yoav Tsemach, in cooperation with the Tel Aviv Municipality, Performance Department; Managing Producer: Itamar Gurevitch.

Grand Finale

Choreography and music: Hofesh Shechter; Set and Costumes Design: Tom Scutt; Lighting Design: Tom Visser; Music Collaborators: Nell Catchpole and Yaron Engler; Produced by Hofesh Shechter Company and commissioned by Georgia Rosengarten.

Performances will take place at the Israeli Opera – Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center:

Wednesday, November 27th at 20:00; Thursday, November 28th at 20:00; Friday, November 29th at 13:00; Saturday, November 30th at 20:00.

Ticket prices range from 160NIS – 330NIS. Tickets may be ordered online from the Israeli Opera website. 


* Shechter addressed the audience in Hebrew, the following is my translation, with light editing for continuity.