Dance review: Scottish Dance Theatre, Dundee Rep

Two works performed in dry-iced gloom made for a murky evening in Dundee, writes Kelly Apter
Scottish Dance Theatre perform TutuMucky PIC: Brian HartleyScottish Dance Theatre perform TutuMucky PIC: Brian Hartley
Scottish Dance Theatre perform TutuMucky PIC: Brian Hartley

Scottish Dance Theatre, Dundee Rep ***

Theatres have been dark for so long during the pandemic, a palpable excitement surrounded Scottish Dance Theatre’s return to live performance in its home venue.

Somewhat ironically, the darkness remained – with both works in this double-bill performed in a dry-iced gloom. Performed separately with a different counterpoint, light would perhaps be less of an issue, but together the murkiness felt all on one note.

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Mele Broomes' new work, Amethyst, suffered most from lack of visibility, with the nuance of the dancers’ movements often lost. Inspired by the eponymous stone and its properties for healing, the piece comes with its own digital publication delving deeper into the themes. Part of this is an excellent blog by British-born Nigerian author Amanda Ajomale, likening the splintering of a precious jewel with what happened to her ancestors in colonial Africa.

With this and other rich texts at her disposal, it’s hard to fathom why Broomes chose to have dancer Glenda Gheller repeat the same sentence over and over (and over) during Amethyst’s opening. From this aurally challenging start, the piece is ripe with powerful, engaging choreography – including a section delivered under a silken sheet, with shades of Martha Graham. But again, the intricacies of the material as it stretches and ripples are lost in the haze.

Botis Seva’s TuTuMucky was first performed by Scottish Dance Theatre in 2017 and it’s good to see it back. The muscular intensity of the movement proved these dancers are in better shape than ever as, dressed in dark tutus, they embodied Seva’s deconstruction of the perceived mores of the dance world.

In-between we were shown joyous short film [Hé], a collaboration between Scottish Dance Theatre and Yabin Studio, that captured and celebrated the natural beauty of Dundee and Beijing.

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