Dance review: Scottish Dance Theatre: Dreamers and TuTuMucky

It was as if somebody had fired a starter pistol. Nine dancers standing in a neat line, facing the audience in complete stillness and silence - and then suddenly, they were off. Abandoning their colleagues one by one, to scurry around the stage at high speed, creating shapes that had the audience chuckling within seconds. Each returning to their original position to pass on the movement, like a relay baton, with a single jerk of their body.

Scottish Dance Theatre new season : Dreamers
Scottish Dance Theatre new season : Dreamers

Scottish Dance Theatre: Dreamers and TuTuMucky ****

Dundee Rep

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It’s not the first time we’ve seen Scottish Dance Theatre perform Anton Lachky’s Dreamers, the company premiered the work in February 2015. Back then, as now, it felt inextricably linked to the people performing it. The dancers were not simply vessels carrying out Lachky’s choreography, but idiosyncratic beings.

Which makes the work’s second outing all the more interesting, because recent changes in personnel means all but three of the original cast has left. A new crop of dancers equals a new way of looking at Lachky’s piece, and it’s every bit as witty, quirky and dynamic as it was two years ago – just different.

The notion of individuality continued with Botis Seva’s TuTuMucky, a world premiere for Scottish Dance Theatre. An emerging, bold young face on the choreographic scene, Seva started his career with London-based hip-hop company, Avant Garde Dance – but has since forged his own distinct path.

For TuTuMucky, Seva wanted to “deconstruct everything we have been told as dancers and makers” and the ‘TuTu’ of the title does indeed refer to the garb of traditional ballet dancers. Only this time, pristine white has been replaced with brown-black mesh, which all the performers – male and female – wear.

For a while, the dark and dusty atmosphere (dramatically lit by talented designer Emma Jones) leaves us unsure of who or what we’re looking at. Slowly, an order emerges from the chaos – poised dancers with feet and arms in first position, endlessly repeating the exercises that build the classical technique. But Seva’s mission for the piece was to “break the everyday cycles” of the “regimented daily life people have become consumed to lead - both in the dance world and the wider world” so TuTuMucky resides far from the beauty of the classical stage. Bodies move robotically, or stretch to reveal muscle tone, an industrial soundtrack blends with spoken fragments from ballet class, and the whole thing has a strange, desolate beauty all of its own.

*Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 3-4 March