Scottish Dance Theatre is a small company with a growing reputation. Since Janet Smith took over as director seven years ago, the company has been touring more widely, in larger venues and with a more ambitious repertoire. The current tour shows works made for the company within the past year; two have commissioned scores. New choreography is a gamble, and these works are patchy. But it's a direct, lively performance.
The strongest piece is Sean Feldman's Moment. Seven dancers run in and out of solos and group dances, tilting and swinging. Tim Motzer's new score moves from electronic bleeps to gasps and voices. Feldman gets more imaginative as soon as the human voice comes in. A long section of laboured breathing and speech is set as a duet for Philippa White and Baptiste Bourgougnon. They circle around each other, closing and separating. As White steps towards Bourgougnon, she tips right over into a fall. Each time, he catches her and turns, swinging her round with him. It's a lurching, dipping spin, a fall that starts to look like a waltz.
The last time I saw work by the Portuguese choreographer Rui Horta, it involved dancers tugging at their clothes to Jimi Hendrix records. In Broken, a long duet for Riccardo Meneghini and Gemma Nixon, he settles down to dancing. The music is a patchwork, hums and strumming guitars. A projected backdrop shows a moving, blurry close-up of tree branches, casting shadows on the dancers' bodies.
It's a relationship number. Horta doesn't ask his dancers to act, but they keep clinging to each other or backing away. Nixon places her elbows on Meneghini's chest, resting her weight against him. He ducks out of the way or puts her off; she goes on doing it. Sliding away from each other, they are brought up short when their feet cross, ankles hooking together. It's warmly danced, but Horta's points are too obviously made. The hugging and backing off are perfectly clear, but he doesn't turn them into good steps.
Didy Veldman's Track is a sketch show, a series of vignettes. The stage is festooned with masking tape, areas fenced off with tape and poles. Dancers stick more of it to the floor, make new barriers with it, attach it to their own bodies. The general theme is fitting in. Two girls teeter on in high heels, freezing in cheesecake poses. A third woman, stripped to her underwear, tries to match them. She nervously improvises a corset, using more tape to pull her stomach in and her breasts up. While the girls pout, the boys get macho. Two have a nose to nose confrontation, standing and glaring half an inch apart.
Veldman, like Horta, has obvious points to make. It's more fun when she starts paying attention to Philip Feeney's new score, a cheerful set of Latin rhythms. Early on, the whole company sit down in a conga line, bouncing and shuffling along. Track ends with another line, the whole company standing with legs wide, rocking from side to side. As they go, one or two dancers start rocking in double time, or leaning against the flow. It's a sharper statement of her theme than anything she does with masking tape.
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