Complex and raw, Hofesh Shechter’s From England with Love, is a captivating dance performance, exploring old and new England. Funded partly through Arts Council England, Hofesh Shechter Company offers a paid development programme for emerging young artists of which dancers are selected every two years and represent the most ‘exceptional world-class dancers’ worldwide. The dancers on stage for From England With Love are exquisitely unique with their engagement and passion through the soulful movements and facial expressions of the 55-minute piece. 


The piece begins with the dancers dressed up in school uniforms (rucksacks too) facing us shocked with just a beam of light shining on them, and almost patriotic-sounding music filling our ears. As the piece progresses, the uniform is ripped and damaged, creating a rattled state; fleeting images of rebellion, raving, hooliganism, war, and community are all entangled. It is through this that the dancers evoke the complexity of England and its dark history and old traditions. 


Hofesh Schecter’s music, alongside Tom Visser’s lighting design, complements the dancers' movements, building tension in the positions and ‘scenes’ with the presence of darkness between the transitions of movements. This tangles together the multi-layered emotions of the turbulent time. The way the eight dancers move across the stage uniformly in the darkness is unlike anything, I’ve seen before. The fast-paced movement of the piece is often hard to keep up with but adds to its complexity, which keeps us hooked. 


At moments haunting, this dance doesn’t shy away from the darkness of the story they are portraying. Violence is at the heart of the routine, with movements suggesting acts of murder and self-harm, but the dancers playfully transition to something lighter in the next part. Schechter’s choreography is clever in being complex itself and also showing the complexity of its subject. In just under an hour, the dancers show the rickety and turbulent heart and soul of Schechter’s England.  


This is a unique and impressive production that demonstrates the power of dance to express challenging emotions of a complex subject.


From England with Love premiered in The Netherlands in 2021, and is running at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre until 20th April, then they are touring.


Review: Cara-Louise Scott   Photo: Todd MacDonald