Dance reviews - Far more pleasure than pain

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Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company - Ticklish ****

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

VARDIMON is one of those dancers you can’t take your eyes off. Like an inquisitive cat, she bends and stretches, climbs and crawls, contorting her incredible body into ever more complex positions. She does the same with her choreography.

In a sea of tired and stale moves, Vardimon is a lifebelt of fresh and previously untapped creativity. Her three dancers share her joy of movement, each pushing themselves to the limit in this intensely physical piece.

Supposedly a work about the teetering point between pleasure and annoyance, Ticklish falls a little short of its target. We search for clarity, but the narrative is obscured by Vardimon’s ever-changing surreality.

Relationships are made and broken; petty squabbles become disturbingly violent and personalities metamorphose into one another. At times we struggle to find a meaning for the more bizarre elements - Frisbee twirling, to name but one. Although if Vardimon wants us to watch two people copulate through a board, that’s fine by us.

Ticklish is a complex jigsaw, with no obvious solution, but when the dancing is this good, putting the pieces together becomes less important.

Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company, Dundee Rep, 28 Sep.

Scottish Dance Theatre ****

Dundee Rep

IT was with some trepidation that we sat down to watch the opening night of Scottish Dance Theatre’s autumn tour. Not only had four of the company’s former members flitted south (including Errol, their shining star) but their replacements were untried, untested and fresh out of college.

We needn’t have worried. This was no jalopy, pieced together with random new parts - but a souped-up sports car that took our breath away. SDT are tighter than ever before, performing as a united whole while maintaining a spirited individuality.

They’ve also put together one of the most eclectic repertoires on the dance scene. The seriousness of Jan De Schynkel’s mysterious Daddy I’m Not Well and Sean Feldman’s dreamlike Inside Somewhere juxtaposing with the humour of Janet Smith’s High Land and New Art Club’s Revenge of the Impossible Things.

The latter received its premiere to rapturous applause, but unfortunately left me a little cold.

Tom Roden and Pete Shenton know how to elicit laughs from their audience, using witty songs and daft costumes to win them over. It’s also nice to hear dancers talk, as they do here to great effect. But the choreography which underpinned the frivolity did nothing to show off the company’s impressive talent, which was a shame.

Scottish Dance Theatre, Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, 8 Oct; Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, 10 Oct.