The Scotsman Sessions #52: Errol White & Davina Givan

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 releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, dancers and choreographers Davina Givan and Errol White present an excerpt from their new piece, Worn.

The Japanese art of Kintsugi involves mending broken pottery with gold or silver – the resulting cracks becoming a beautiful and valuable part of the object. With their new piece, Worn, choreographers Davina Givan and Errol White set out to view the human body in the same way.

Working with the phrase “the beautiful broken” during rehearsals, the duo explore how “the experiences that mark us stay with us through life.” The full-length show was due to open in Glasgow on 19 March before touring Scotland, and was one of the first casualties of lockdown. This five-minute excerpt gives us a brief view of what we’ll hopefully see in full in 2021.

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Partners in life as well as in dance for over 25 years, between them the couple have performed with some of the UK’s finest contemporary dance companies – Scottish Dance Theatre, Richard Alston and Phoenix to name a few – before setting up their own company, White & Givan in Edinburgh.

Davina Givan and Errol White perform an excerpt from Worn

Worn should have been brought to us with set, costume and lighting all embellishing the movement and Tiago Cerquiera’s emotive score (which we get a delightful clip of here). But what we lose in theatrics we gain in intimacy, and the tall trees through the window echo the length and strength of this relationship. The photograph of Givan’s late parents on their wedding day, overlooking their daughter and son-in-law from the table, adds a certain poignancy.

Never actually touching during this short film, the couple enact a kind of “parallel play,” demonstrating an ease born out of years of professional and personal interaction. Bent bodies and hands pressed against backs convey heaviness and fatigue – but then wing-like arms express an absolute desire to keep going. Although ultimately we carry our emotional and bodily pain alone, there’s something about the harmony here that hints at the beauty of becoming “worn” together.

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