However, judging by the current double bill, which marks the company’s return to live performance after lockdown, Scottish Dance Theatre under the direction of Joan Clevillé has embarked on a radically new path, and a questionable one at that.
The programme presented at The Place started with Amethyst, the young choreographer Mele Broomes’s first commission for a repertoire company. Billed as drawing its inspiration from the gemstone, this is a dispiriting affair which gathers all the tics of much contemporary ‘dance’ creation: it relies on the spoken word, as opposed to music, is performed in near-total darkness, and what it does on stage (insofar as you can actually see it) bears no discernible relation to its supposed theme.
A figure stood downstage and spoke into a microphone with lots of reverb. Barely visible, the voice suggested it was a woman, Glenda Gheller.
'I think I’m a fragmentation of stories...' She intoned over and over and over again for what felt like an eternity, forcing you to fight the urge to flee.
Eventually two men, Kieran Brown and João Castro, slowly slithered out of a prop rock upstage. And then the three performed some movement – by no stretch of the imagination could you call it dance – that seemed to involve little more than deep knee bends, swaying torso, rise and repeat.
And after 20 minutes it was all over, leaving even The Place’s generally enthusiastic audience flummoxed – bar a couple of yelps, the applause was perfunctory.
Would Botis Seva ride to the rescue?
The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘not quite’. Seva’s 1917 TuTuMucky has truly wonderful and engaging moments, and displays many of the qualities that cohered so cogently in his recent BLKDOG; but on the whole it’s a disjointed work with quite a bit of ‘dead air’.
Made up of Seva’s very own combination of contemporary dance and hip-hop, with influences from African dance, and performed to a tailor-made score by Seva’s regular collaborator Torben Lars Sylvest, TuTuMucky is billed as an exploration of the forces that oppress us and a celebration of revolt against those systems. This doesn’t always come across.
The final scene is superb: all 10 dancers in their unisex knee-length tutus, engage in a pulsating syncopated dance, surely inspired by African tribal ritual, where the participants dance themselves into a trance, through which they reach a kind of peace and equilibrium.
Scottish Dance Theatre’s nine dancers, augmented by three guest performers, are superb.
Between the two live pieces we were shown the film [Hé], created in collaboration with Yabin Studio in Beijing, which, interesting as it was as an exercise in digital film-making, presented no dance to speak of and felt like unnecessary programme padding.
|What||Review Scottish Dance Theatre Amethyst double bill|
|Where||The Place, 17 Duke's Road, London, WC1H 9PY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Euston (underground)|
24 Nov 21 – 25 Nov 21, 19:30 Dur.: 60 mins approx