YAMA/Kingdom, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Scottish Dance Theatre
YAMA: Damien Jalet (choreographer); Meytal Bianaru (assistant); Emilios Arapoglou (choreographer assistant); Jim Hodges (set design); Emma Jones (lighting design); Jean-Paul Lespagnard (costume design); Lea Capisano (costume design assistant); Music: original music by Winter Family (Rosenthal/Klaine); Gabriele Miracle (additional rhythms); Jari Kerremans (rehearsal director).
Kingdom: Jorge Crecis (concept and direction); SDT Dancers (devising and performance); Carys Hobbs (costume design); Emma Jones (lighting design), Zheng Jing (structure advisor); Matthew Robinson (rehearsal director).
YAMA: Francesco Ferrari, Eve Ganneau, Fhunyue Gao, Artur Grabarczyk, Manon Greiner, Frank Koenen, Naomi Murray, Matthew Robinson, Lewis Wilkins.

Kingdom: Francesco Ferrari, Eve Ganneau, Fhunyue Gao, Artur Grabarczyk, Manon Greiner, Amy Hollinshead, Jari Kerremans, Frank Koenen, Naomi Murray, Lewis Wilkins.
Running time

Scottish Dance Theatre’s latest performance is an ambitious but frustrating double bill.

Pushing the boundaries of dance seems to have become the SDT’s mission statement – it is certainly a defining feature of their repertoire – but it hasn’t always paid off. The two new choreographies performed this evening, hoped to project powerful ‘alternatives to the habitual’ that extended ‘beyond received orthodoxies’. This is all very well if you take the audience with you but unfortunately they left most of us behind.

The first piece was YAMA by French-Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet. Within the confines of a sloping, angular construction built around a central crater, this performance was, at first, strangely promising.

As the near-naked dancers crawled out of the metaphorical womb, huge matted wigs intentionally thwarted any attempt to tell the boys from the girls. As they rolled and tumbled, their limbs coiled together to form new species of hexapeds and octopeds. Throbbing and stretching in what appeared to be rhythmic rituals, they created moments of mesmerising intensity. The creatures went through an evolution of dressing, rising on two feet and turning their featureless faces to the sun, before swirling back down the plughole like spiders in the bath.

Unfortunately, the effective execution of a few forceful ideas was not enough to hold the attention throughout this half-hour piece. While it engaged the intellect in a contemplation of ‘our animal nature’, just as the programme notes suggested, it failed to connect with the heart.

The second performance, Kingdom by Jorge Crecis, had apparently been inspired by the choreographer’s involvement in the Madrid Occupy Movement in 2011 – but could have been mistaken for a communal episode of Grand Designs, without the scenery or running commentary. Abounding with metaphor, for the first twenty-five minutes, ten dancers constructed a strong yet fragile frame, using 80 bamboo poles and 120 pieces of red rope. As people had paid money to watch this, it was good that the dancers took it in turns to leave the construction work, at intervals, in order to dance beside it.

There was something touching about the careful way they collectively carried their completed construction around the space in the last ten minutes and there was undoubtedly a beauty about the final product and the teamwork that had produced it. But it was an alienating experience. It was probably a very positive, shared experience for the dancers, but it would have been nice if they could have shared some of it with their audience.

Run ended