Plan B: Double Bill

Tramway, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


SINCE 1990, Plan B - a sparky, enterprising dance-theatre company based in Ross-shire - has frequently explored issues of identity on-stage. Choreographies, many of them by artistic director Frank McConnell, have connected the bone marrow of who we are to where we come from, where we most belong and the influencing energies of places and people on the paths we choose in life, and in art. This double-bill, sadly Plan B’s last ever project, is a fine and profoundly affecting instance of the company’s innate heart and humanity.

In A Pair of Genes, McConnell unspools a print-out of his own DNA while explaining that some 99.9 per cent of it is common to us all. Whereupon Neil Joseph Price pops up, declares he has an extra chromosome that makes him who he is: a young man with Down’s Syndrome - and, as it happens, Winner, Best Dance Performance, Sunday Herald Culture Awards 2017.

The ensuing duet, choreographed by McConnell to composer David Trouton’s richly textured musical mood-board, has a playful elan that makes the work’s core concerns about people with Down’s Syndrome, and their right to life, all the more compelling.

McConnell is, as ever, a delightfully dapper dancer whose light, fleet style is mirrored by Price’s own fluid grace and finely detailed movement. They banter, with their bodies, over what’s shared and what’s different before coming together in soaring, supportive lifts and tender camaraderie - a total joy to watch.

As is the opening solo, Tantalus. Choreographed and performed by Price to specially commissioned music by Quee MacArthur, this is an intensely personal statement of aspiration and achievement in the face of pitfalls. As Price spins, stretches and balances with total poise and control, while surmounting obstacles - a table becomes both a hindrance and a portal - we see the blossoming of a talented artist, unstintingly eager to embrace experiences through and with dance. Quintessential Plan B - well done, everybody.