Dance review: Pacing the Void, Mount Stuart, Rothesay

Inspired by the myth of Callisto and performed in the stunning Marble Hall at Mount Stuart, Pacing the Void is a thoughtful, collaborative reflection on bodily autonomy, writes Kelly Apter

Pacing the Void, Mount Stuart, Rothesay, Isle of Bute ****

The last time Eve Mutso revealed herself from inside a long, hooded cloak, she was playing the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. How times have changed.

Now the hugely talented dancer and choreographer is making strides as a freelance creator, the latest example of which took place in the most remarkable of settings on Bute. Assembled along the balcony of Mount Stuart’s stunning Marble Hall, we peer down at Mutso below. Looking up, we see a constellation of stars, including the Great Bear – the inspiration for the Greek myth of Callisto.

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Pacing the VoidPacing the Void
Pacing the Void

At first, Mutso is powerful and carefree. She spins with elegance, the velvet material billowing around her. Occasionally, a long, graceful limb pokes out of the cloak to stretch into the distance or shoot an invisible bow and arrow. Beneath her, a mirrored floor catches the motion, reflecting it back up to us to create another layer of wonderment in this already sumptuous scene.

But then, everything changes. As per the myth, Callisto is raped by Zeus, turned into a bear by his wife, Hera, and forced to live alone. In response to the narrative, Mutso discards her cloak and strains against her very being, as if trying to shed the body that has been violated.

The joy, then trauma, of Mutso’s movement is clear but our understanding of the storyline comes courtesy of Rhona Warwick Paterson. Narrated by Gerda Stevenson, her poetry echoes Mutso’s choreographic journey from strong huntswoman to elegiac sorrow. Mutso, Warwick Paterson and sound artist Baby were all inspired by the history and surroundings of Mount Stuart, a building bursting at the seams with creativity.

They do this magnificent building and landscape justice, and if there’s a complaint to be made it’s that the piece is too truncated. At just 30 minutes long, it leaves us longing for more of this thoughtful, collaborative reflection on bodily autonomy.

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