Dance review: Scottish Dance Theatre, Dundee

Any double-bill will inevitably invite comparisons from its audience – but there’s one key similarity to the new works Scottish Dance Theatre premiered in Dundee last week, and that is the unprecedented challenges faced by the dancers.

The dancers built a bamboo frame, using it in various ways
The dancers built a bamboo frame, using it in various ways

Scottish Dance Theatre - Dundee Rep

* * * *

Making something hard look effortless is, of course, a dancer’s job. But choreographers Damien Jalet and Jorge Crecis both added a whole layer of complexity, the like of which I’ve not seen this company tackle before.

Jalet’s Yama was inspired by the mountain hermits he encountered during a trip to Japan. Recreating aspects of this onstage, a circular wooden structure dominated the space, from which virtually naked dancers in matted hair wigs oozed out.

First a foot appeared, then a leg – an arachnid-like human reborn before our eyes. As body after body crawled forth, it was hard to see which limb belonged to which torso. Fully emerged, their movement took on a frenzied, visceral quality before they were pulled back down the sinkhole.

Profound and visually captivating though Yama is, hermits by their very nature shun human connection – which perhaps explains the limited opportunities for emotional engagement in the piece.

Crecis’ Kingdom, on the other hand, is born from a place of pure empathy. Having built a large, sturdy structure with 80 bamboo sticks, the dancers move it around the stage, climbing through it, swinging from it, and using it to observe the audience.

The synchronised choreography, along with the dancers’ skilful construction work, conveyed a touching sense of oneness, which brought us into their world

Seen on 21.02.14