A sudden and unexpected burst of music announces the start of The Circle, as the curtain rises to reveal 12 dancers scattering like light across the stage. Equally unexpected are the costumes, which look like the result of an explosion in the remnants box of a fabric shop. Swathes of material that enjoyed a former life as curtains, upholstery or actual clothes have been bundled up and attached to various parts of the dancers’ torsos.
Scottish Dance Theatre - Ritualia and The Circle, Dundee Rep Theatre ****
All this looks and feels strange to begin with, but Thomas Bradley’s costumes turn out to be the perfect gateway to Emanuel Gat’s choreography. Both have a freewheeling quality that challenges expectations, confounds interpretation and invites you to let go and enjoy.
Individuals bob around the space performing seemingly random droplets of movement, then suddenly group together in twos and threes to deliver waves of unison. It’s all oddly compelling, especially when backed by hypnotic tracks from Squarepusher’s Ultravisitor album.
The Circle is a new work for Scottish Dance Theatre, and so left-field is it, it makes Colette Sadler’s Ritualia look straightforward by comparison. Her 2018 re-imagining of Bronislava’s Nijinska’s 1920s ballet Les Noces bears repeat viewing, so it’s great to have another chance to see this atmospheric statement about gender performed by living sculptures.
New artistic director Joan Clevillé has only just taken over the reins of Scottish Dance Theatre, so had no hand in this bold programming – but he inherits a company in rude health, unafraid to step into the unknown. - Kelly Apter