Van Cleef & Arpels
Prize for Ballet 2020


12 / 13

LIGHT Bach dances (working title)

United Kingdom
Hofesh Shechter Company


Only by dancing in the abyss can we celebrate the LIGHT.

Following their hugely successful creative partnership as co-directors of Royal Opera House London’s 2015 production of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, restaged at La Scala, Milan in 2018, internationally-renowned choreographer Hofesh Shechter and award-winning opera director John Fulljames reunite to collaborate with conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen and create a major new dance, music and theatre production inspired by Bach’s cantatas and the real-life audio testimonies of people facing death.

Performed live by baroque orchestra Concerto Copenhagen, 8 singers, and 8 dancers - creating a trialogue rich in emotion and sound - this piece will be moving, intense, thought-provoking and most importantly, life-affirming. Poignant interviews and dialogue with people contemplating death expose universal questions that touch us all – facing the unknown, loss of control, faith, shame, and acceptance. These witnesses do not appear onstage, and their absence is palpable - some may no longer be with us when the work premieres. Their powerful testimony gives them a voice, a story to be told.

LIGHT Bach dances will reimagine Bach’s music, originally composed at a time when life was perceived as preparation and death the ultimate salvation, to explore what dying now means to us today. Shechter’s raw, fragile and profoundly affecting choreography will bring a new currency to Bach’s cantatas, sung live, and the interweaving audio testimony of people contemplating the end of their lives, a new urgency. In an era when we have ceased to embrace it, this work reveals the complex emotions arising in the face of death.

“I have been always fascinated by death and the perspective it gives to our lives - but here, now, facing real people facing death, this moment feels important. I believe that staring the monster in the eye is the only way to tame it. I hope to stare into this dark abyss and feel at ease in a way that celebrates our existence.”
Hofesh Shechter

Produced by Royal Danish Theatre and Hofesh Shechter Company
Research and development supported by Cockayne - Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation
Premiere 2021, Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen

Artistic Team

Hofesh Shechter

Hofesh Shechter

Co-Director and Choreographer

Lars Ulrik Mortensen

Lars Ulrik Mortensen


Tom Scutt

Tom Scutt

Set and Costume Designer

Paule Constable

Paule Constable

Lighting Designer

Mary Bevan

Mary Bevan


Co-producing Partners

Royal Danish Opera



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