Company that's on the edge of something big

Scottish Dance Theatre ***

Brunton Theatre

INVIGORATING and soothing by turns, Scottish Dance Theatre’s tour of their autumn programme has plenty to please even the most casual friend of contemporary dance.

Here is work which, at its best, takes the most abstract of the live arts and gives it a comprehendible twist. Without resorting to cliche or gimmick it not only attracts a large audience, but a young and appreciative one as well.

Opening the programme, choreographer Annabelle Bonnery’s On The Edge steps straight into a demonstration of why this is dance theatre, not merely dance. Yet the tale to tell is not a vast one and the result is not so much the epic fairy tale sweep of classical ballet, but a well-formed and neatly balanced short story.

In complete silence, two couples prepare for their night out together. The hosts, danced by James MacGilligray and Victoria Roberts, make slow and romantic love. The two dancer’s bodies slide around each other without ever touching. To watch, it is both completely chaste and hugely sensual.

Meanwhile their guests, Ricardo Meneghini and Gemma Nixon, are having that perennial pre-evening out ritual. He’s ready. She’s still putting on her nail varnish - and hasn’t decided what to wear. Their’s is a tempestuous relationship and Nixon is particularly adept at combining everyday actions with dance moves.

What this preamble does, is introduce the characters in such a way that when they do get together their actions and interactions are obvious. And that jaunty yet melancholy accordion and double bass combinationprovides the perfect backdrop to a failed attempt at an affair.

Rui Horta’s Broken is more of a fragment. Its corresponding literary form might be a piece of concrete poetry which plays all sorts of tricks with how words sound but doesn’t ultimately have a great deal to say.

To round the evening off, Beth Cassini’s My House Is Melting is satisfyingly packed.

With a lump of ice the size of a large bucket strung up on a rope as a pendulum, time ticks away. A six strong troupe of travelling players - according to the programme - appear and exit through a portable doorway to tell a series of anecdotes.

Clowns mock lovers, dancing over, under and around them with bubbles and streamers. Would-be couples lie in their separate beds and dream of each other. Megalomaniacs step out into the world and trample on everyone they see. But for all these people, that pendulum is still ticking.

If it lacks depth, this has a superb sense of what makes visual theatre work. A fitting conclusion to a programme by a company on the cusp of something big.

• Run ended

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