Tramway, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


Last August, when Scottish Dance Theatre (SDT) premiered MIANN at Summerhall, the small space was perhaps too intimate: front row audiences were almost in the ritual circle of Fleur Darkin's visceral choreography of personal loss and mystical landscape. Subtle re-workings have emerged since, in both movement and staging. At Tramway One - as part of Dance International Glasgow - MIANN had room to breathe, and breath thrums through this piece whether it's heard in the bodies of the dancers or in the live music of The One Ensemble.

Breath...the dividing line between life and death, as spiraling and elusive as the smoke that initially wafts through the auditorium. Breath, panting and rasping as the mud-spattered Amy Hollinshead hammers the ground with vehement jumpings, as if trying to awaken the earth, and those who sleep in it. Her pounding feet conjure others into the circle, filtering across the perimeter of dry-crackling withies and into a realm of ancient beliefs and timeless hopes: in the fervour of the trance, the wild couplings of the dance, the sheer energy of longing, the departed will return. Be re-born, old souls in a community of young bodies.

Darkin's MIANN is full of mythic intensity, but if the look of it - the sail-shaped water-drop curtain an emblematic threshold between worlds, the simple shapes of the costuming- connects with a Celtic past, the driving force that sends bodies whirling in headlong ecstasies has a timeless urgency. Would we not rip the ground away, lay bare the secret-sacred turf if we thought the loved ones would - like the wheezing accordions of the band - breathe again with us...? Hauntingly imagined, fiercely delivered by outstanding dancers and musicians alike - Darkin is putting her own distinctive stamp on SDT.