Theatre Dundee Rep
SET up in 1998 to nurture and encourage young dancemakers, the Peter Darrell Choreographic Award has produced some interesting results - and this year is no exception.
Unlike other award schemes, which lavish trinkets on their recipients, this one puts its money where its mouth is, allowing the winners to create a new work with a professional company.
The Scottish Dance Theatre was the empty vessel on this occasion, waiting to be filled by the judges’ favourites: Victor Quijada and Beth Cassani. And what a heady brew they produced. A former Los Angeles hip-hopper turned ballet dancer, Quijada has gone back to his roots for the psychoanalytical work Self Observation Without Judgment. Blending contemporary moves with street-dance poses, he builds the work slowly, accelerating from tortured, faltering steps to assured aggression via a tender, but all too brief, pas de deux.
Some of the dancers inhabited this new style more comfortably than others, but these are early days and like all dance works, Self Observation needs time to evolve. Just as a new CD slowly grows on you, I suspect the same may be true of Quijada’s choreography - for both audience and dancers. There is much to admire in his work, but for the moment it feels a little disjointed.
Cassani, on the other hand, is a deeply engaging choreographer. The Scottish Dance Theatre’s repertoire has been crying out for a work that exploits its dancers technical ability to the full - and this is it.
My House is Melting is a quirky, vaguely surreal but ultimately loveable piece, overflowing with playful abandonment. Described by Cassani as "a party in heaven", the work’s dreamlike quality belies its raw edge.
The all new line-up at the dance theatre is looking tighter than ever, and Cassani’s work is the perfect vehicle to show off the plethora of emotions they have at their disposal. The eclectic score and dynamic choreography render them in turn vivacious and vulnerable. A joy to watch.
This review appeared in later editions of yesterday’s Scotsman.