HOFESH Shechter knows a thing or two about the Brighton Festival.

The dance choreographer was guest director in 2014 and is a festival associate artist, meaning Brighton Dome lend financial support to his new projects.

“It’s a special relationship I have with very few theatres around the world,” says Hofesh, who is considered one of contemporary dance’s leading lights.

“The Dome is putting a substantial amount of resources into my work.”

One such show is Grand Finale, a production based around a world in freefall – yet one that possesses a kind of gallows humour despite the disarray.

Ironically, Grand Finale is one of the first events at this year’s festival.

It would be wrong to say the old double-whammy of Brexit and Trump directly influenced the dance piece, says Hofesh.

The process is always much “messier” than that.

“It’s difficult to say what the work is inspired by after it’s done,” he says.

“I start off with a notebook and try to puke up anything that is on my mind.

“I didn’t wake up and think about these things that have penetrated our lives quite violently over the last few years and make it into a piece.

“But in some ways it is about the situation we’re living in and trying to capture how people are dealing with these feelings of uncertainty.”

Hofesh was also interested in examining how chaos can be strangely compelling to the watching public, how every bad news story can be morbidly fascinating.

One of Grand Finale’s most haunting features are puppets of dead bodies, an “inappropriate but interesting way to show death”.

“It almost feels as though human beings enjoy this catastrophic feeling,” adds Hofesh.

Like the best artists, Hofesh is not content to rest on his laurels – and his considerable reputation.

He says he is “always trying to create a challenging environment for the dancers, so we’re not repeating what we’re already good at”.

In the case of Grand Finale, that meant incorporating more physical contact between the performers – something that Hofesh had never really experimented with before.

“It was very difficult and time-consuming but worth it, because we discovered a new world, a new language,” he says.

“After 12 years of choreographing it was nice to find something new.”

This contact was also important to the thematic content of Grand Finale, although Hofesh wasn’t to realise that until after the show was fully created.

As well as portraying the current sense of confusion brought about by recent seismic political events, he also wanted to explore how we are all responsible for what happens in the world, even though we may not think it sometimes.

By having all his dancers touch each other at regular intervals, Hofesh can put across the idea that we are all linked in the quest to change the societies we live in.

“That was part of my observation,” says the choreographer.

“I feel like when we read the news and talk about things like the government and elections we always think about ‘they’.

“But I am part of the election. We put the responsibility on some unknown, intangible figure, whereas it’s actually us that are involved – me, you, everyone.

“You’re participating even by sitting there and doing nothing. It’s a very complex thing.

“We’re born into a world where we have to behave in very specific ways and to break out of that is very complicated.”

Hofesh adds that “trauma is a very good trigger for change”, and that distressing global events can shock the public into action.

“Maybe that’s the way human beings learn,” he says, with half a laugh.

If all of this sounds bleak, it’s important to add that there is lightness and humour in Grand Finale.

“The show isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself,” says Hofesh. He believes that finding laughter in dark times is an essential part of humanity.

“Ask 10 people and you’ll probably get 10 different answers – some will see it as quite depressing but others will see it’s very comic,” he says.

“There is something I find hopeful and life-affirming in the production.

“Being human is the ability to have humour – otherwise it would all just be too depressing.”

Like all dance productions, Grand Finale sets out to communicate certain messages to the audience without the advantage of text or narrative.

If this makes it harder to clearly state what your artistic intentions are, it arguably allows for more subtlety and leaves more room for audience interpretation.

“I am never ashamed to say that I’m trying to connect with my audience, but I dont want to lecture them, I don’t want them to teach them anything,” says Hofesh. “I have no agenda.”

“We bring a creative image that allows the audience to imagine things themselves.

“Crowd members often proclaim to understand what’s happening on stage.”

It’s unsurprising to learn that Hofesh has many loyal followers in Brighton, a city always prepared to engage with new ideas and experimental art forms.

The choreographer says people here are “very well informed” about his work due to his previous performances.

“They’ve seen a few pieces by my company, but this feels the most mature,” he says.

“My audience is growing up with me – nobody’s getting any younger, right?”

Grand Finale premiered last June, just missing last year’s Brighton Festival, and Hofesh is excited about returning to the city that has been such a champion of his work.

“I’m so looking forward to it – I really hope and have the feeling that there will be a great sense of buzz around it,” he says.

“There’s always a nice feeling at the Dome, it’s such a special theatre.”

Grand Finale will allow Hofesh to further cement his status as a Brighton Festival favourite.

If you’re feeling down about the state of the world, perhaps the show will prove to be therapeutic – and maybe even provide a laugh or two.

Hofesh Shechter: Grand Finale

Brighton Dome, Saturday, May 5 (7.30pm) and Sunday, May 6 (2.30pm)