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Review: Dance



Dundee Rep

Mary Brennan

Shared mindset, as much as taxing movement and installed design, drives this double bill of new work - commissioned by artistic director Fleur Darkin, in her first wholly independent programming initiative since she arrived at Scottish Dance Theatre last year.

In Damien Jalet's Yama, the choreography is his response to the mythic undercurrents that have their roots in primal rituals but which still rumble on in certain societies today - he cites the Japanese monks (Yamabushis) who live in worshipful isolation in the sacred mountains as inspiration.

As the near-naked dancers, heads shrouded in shaggy horse-hair wigs (from Balinese traditions), snake out of the off-centre portal in Jim Hodges's sculptural design - a geometric 'slice' of abstracted crater - their anonymous limbs couple like burgeoning amoeba, or tussle like hybrid monsters out of Bosch.

These slithery, interlocking shapes are the stuff of evolution and fear-inducing legend.

When the figures do stand erect, slough the wigs down into an unseen netherworld, it's so as to assume the corded tunics, hyperventilating rhythms and whirling physicality of shamanist trances. That 'eye' - or 'mouth', maybe - on the set remains impassive, birthing them out, and sucking them back in. The Becket quote "they give birth astride of the grave" is made flesh here.

Profound, powerful and hugely demanding in terms of precision, control and team spirit, Yama is followed by Jorge Crecis's Kingdom, another statement of how society needs "self" to be subsumed into a collaborative selflessness.

Hooded, like mediaeval peasants, the dancers construct a skeletal edifice from bamboo sticks and red rope.

Hoods off, they emerge as modern-day individuals - able to go into free-fall dance, and yet still connected to the ancient structures, the energy of community. At times the parallels don't emerge fully formed, but the dancers are unstinting in executing every task.

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