Scottish Dance Theatre @ Dundee Rep

Review by Rachel Elderkin | 03 Mar 2014

Scottish Dance Theatre bring a distinct European flavour to the Dundee Rep with the premiere of two new works commissioned by Artistic Director Fleur Darkin.

Yama, created by French/Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet, is an extraordinarily clever work with each theatrical element perfectly balanced; the result is a piece of mesmerising brilliance. Jalet drew his inspiration from the pagan and animist rituals practised among the mountains of Tohoku, Japan, and there is a distinct primal feel to the physicality of this piece, undoubtedly aided by its mass of naked limbs and matted hair. Yet as Yama grows and builds, like an evolving, living creature, a sense of collectiveness begins to emanate, switching the focus from an exhibition of human physicality to an expression of something at the heart of human nature.

Kingdom is a work of labour, intensity and endurance. Inspired by Spanish choreographer Jorge Crecis’ involvement in the Madrid Occupy Movement of 2011, Kingdom tests the physical and mental strength of its dancers, pushing their ability to trust and work together as a company. It is a more studied and calmer work than Yama, but no less engaging. The company’s feats of physical strength as they scale a six metre bamboo structure are undoubtedly impressive and not without risk. The result is an intensely focused work, expertly crafted and engagingly executed.

Yama and Kingdom are strikingly different but both evoke a sense of something intrinsically human, a way of moving or working together that tugs at the core of human nature.

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