The Scotsman Sessions #47: Genevieve Reeves, Glenda Gheller, Jessie Roberts-Smith, Johanna Wernmo, Kieran Brown, Luigi Nardone, Pauline Torzuoli, Solene Weinachter

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts world shutting down for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country (and beyond) and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Genevieve Reeves, Glenda Gheller, Jessie Roberts-Smith, Johanna Wernmo, Kieran Brown, Luigi Nardone, Pauline Torzuoli, Solene Weinachter of Scottish Dance Theatre perform a lockdown piece entitled Mild Dissociation 47.

Scottish Dance Theatre has always been an international affair, with dancers from around the world finding a new home in Dundee. As lockdown loomed, some returned to their homelands, severing the tightly-knit bond that comes from sharing a studio on a daily basis.

Shot in Scotland, England, Sweden and Italy by eight of the company’s dancers between April and June 2020, Mild Dissociation 47 was “born from the urge to connect, document and dream together.” In a statement at the end, the dancers note that as children we’re encouraged to focus and concentrate rather than daydream. Perhaps one of the few benefits of lockdown is a little more space, and tolerance, for daydreaming.

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That certainly feels the case here, in this absorbing short film. Watching dance on screen can feel like a compromise – nothing compares to the energy of the live experience. Unless film plays an equal role to choreography and movement, as it does here. This is a film with dance rather than dance that has been filmed.

A Still from Mild dissociation 47

Different angles and points of view created by the dancers’ cameras all add to that. Dissociated body parts – hands, torsos, the top of a head, an arm glimpsed through woodwork, a hazy image behind stained glass – all hint at isolation. So too the pivotal role played by windows, as we watch the world from a safe distance. Alongside the human frame comes sound and vision from the natural world; a tree looming above, green foliage underwater, birds flying through the sky in an almost cruel reminder of how freedom of movement feels. In the absence of theatrical lighting, the natural reflection of glass on pavement breaks up the space.

When one dancer looks up, and we cut to a body pressed against the window, we know they’re probably not even in the same country. It’s connection through a lens, something we all can identify with right now.

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