EIF 2013: Scottish Ballet Dance Odysseys, Contemporary Classics Review

Rating (out of 5)
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Scottish Ballet
Christopher Bruce, Twyla Tharp, Jiri Kylian
Luke Ahmet, Daniel Davidson, Constance Devernay, Laura Kinross, Sophie Laplane, Andrew Peasgood, Owen Thorne, Katie Webb
Running time

As a refreshing change from the formal, fully staged performances, this selection of short small scale chamber pieces is part of the diverse Dance Odysseys programme.

Here we have the work of three world renowned choreographers, Christopher Bruce, Twyla Tharp and Jiri Kylian.

Inspired by Chaplin’s Modern Times, Shift by Christopher Bruce has a filmic mood, the 1940s period quickly identifiable from the costumes: girls in patterned head scarves, neat wrap dresses, the boys in jeans and check shirts.

As workers at a US armaments factory, they express the relentless, repetitive motion of the machinery, performed with swinging rhythm and high energy.

Twyla Tharp creates challenging, innovative choreography based on the structure of pure dance and movement. With no music, The Fugue concentrates on the sound of rhythm with the dancers stamping feet, tap dancing, slapping hands on thighs, walking, marching, standing.

As an abstract study of stillness and motion, sound and silence it’s quite intriguing, but the prolonged pounding becomes rather tedious and headache-inducing.

A little girl beside me (who is studying ballet) remarked at the end, “but there was no music, and that wasn’t proper dance”. She might well be right.

As a relaxing interlude between live performances, the film of Silent Cries by Jiří Kylián was then screened. Choreographed personally for his wife, the dancer Sabine Kupferberg, and set to Debussy’s L’Apres-midi d’un faun, the themes of beauty, wild nature, fear and freedom are intensely expressed.

Jiří Kylián created 27'52" for Nederlands Dans Theater II in 2002. The title refers to the duration of the accompanying Mahler inspired music by Dirk Haubrich. Here we see an immaculately performed duet from the original, lasting precisely 14’ 20.”

The electronic-percussive soundtrack blends fragments of German and French text, as the two dancers move, twist and turn in sharp, jerking robotic style with acrobatic skill. Lighting and shadow add to the dark, sinister urban street mood.

Stripping off her red T shirt, the girl is picked up and thrown around like a doll, her limbs held in perfect balance; the music mellows to end on a slow, gentler pace.

My young critic beside me was captivated by this dramatic dance but was concerned about the unnecessary nudity. “Why did she have to take her top off?” Why indeed?

Show times

16 - 18 August, 2013.

Run ended.