Dance Revue: Scottish Dance Theatre, Dundee Rep

Scottish Dance Theater perform TutuMucky PIC: Brian Hartley

Scottish Dance Theatre, Dundee Rep ***

Theaters have been dark for so long during the pandemic, palpable excitement has surrounded Scottish Dance Theater’s return to live performance in its original venue.

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Ironically enough, the darkness remained – with both works in this double bill performed in icy darkness. Played separately with different counterpoint, the light might be less of an issue, but together the darkness felt on one note.

Mele Broomes’ new work, Amethyst, suffered the most from the lack of visibility, with the nuance of the dancers’ movements often being lost. Inspired by the eponymous stone and its healing properties, the piece comes with its own digital publication delving deeper into the themes. Part of that is an excellent blog by British-born Nigerian author Amanda Ajomale, comparing the shattering of a precious jewel to what happened to her ancestors in colonial Africa.

With this and other rich texts at his disposal, it’s hard to understand why Broomes chose to have dancer Glenda Gheller repeat the same phrase over and over (and over again) in the opening of Amethyst. From this aurally difficult start, the piece is ripe with powerful and engaging choreography – including a section delivered under a silken sheet, with Martha Graham undertones. But again, the intricacies of the material as it stretches and the ripples get lost in the haze.

Botis Seva’s TuTuMucky was first performed by Scottish Dance Theater in 2017 and it’s good to see it again. The muscular intensity of the movement proves that these dancers are in better shape than ever as, clad in dark tutus, they embody Seva’s deconstruction of the dance world’s perceived mores.

In the meantime, we were shown a cheerful short film [Hé]a collaboration between Scottish Dance Theater and Yabin Studio, which captured and celebrated the natural beauty of Dundee and Beijing.

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