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12 dancers/deliberance, traverse, edinburgh

choreographer Andy Howitt cites a line from the 1957 film, 12 Angry Men, as his starting point for this pleasingly ambitious all-male dance piece.

The line – "it takes a great deal of courage to stand alone" – refers, in the film, to Henry Fonda's lone stance in a jury room against the guilty verdict voted for by the others. You could say that, here, the injustice Howitt is addressing – and opposing to stirring effect – is the way older dancers are edged off-stage even when they clearly still have much to offer choreographers and audiences alike.

Howitt's 12 men in sharp suits range in age from 27 to 65. So, there are age-related degrees of difference in each man's technique. But, given the diversity of training within the group – some have a classical ballet background, others majored in contemporary, a couple went the way of hip-hop, those kinetic contrasts would still have been the case even if the men had all been twentysomethings.

Seeing the reunion of so many erstwhile shakers and movers on the Scottish dance scene is a treat in itself, but add Stephen Deazley's urgent, thoughtful score (played live), combine it with the emotional investment and expressive physical focus of the dancers, and all the dramatic conflict, swithering and stubborn resolve that's charted in the shifting balance of the jury's show of hands is potently conveyed.

You can read the moral anguish, the power plays, the crises of conscience that each man characters into his dance, never more so than when the last man, Martin Shields, crumples into "not guilty" acquiescence.

A tour de force, gentlemen – memorable for all the best reasons.

HHHH

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