The Circle/Looping

Tramway, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

four stars

Two works by Scottish Dance Theatre (SDT) rounded off DIG 2019 in exuberant style, with the mercurial energies of Emanuel Gat’s The Circle proving a cleverly appropriate precursor to Looping: Scotland Overdub in which audiences grooved alongside the company.

On paper, there’s not an obvious connection between these pieces. But on-stage, there is a shared dynamic – a sense of choreographic tropes and fixed approaches being whirled into freefall, with dancers able to channel their own ideas, their own personalities into an accommodating framework.

In The Circle, this translates into a collage of solos, duets and trios that emerge from the 11-strong group as if prompted by drumming imperatives from Squarepusher’s Ultravisitor (live) album. Gat’s concept – that dancers would interact, respond and connect ‘in the moment’ – has probably acquired some favourite ‘set pieces’ but The Circle never feels routine or regimented.

The spins, jumps, balances and runs all look spontaneous, and if the opulently be-swagged and bumphly costumes blurred body-lines and gender, there was no disguising the ever-present focus and precise control shown by the dancers.

A short break, then into the intimate black box of Tramway 4, where Looping:Scotland Overdub melded the rhythmic swagger of Brazil – originally devised by choreographers Felipe de Assis, Leonardo França and Rita Aquino – with the reeling and roistering of Scottish ceilidh gatherings.

A live DJ set the mood for dancing, nine members of SDT whisked bystanders onto the floor – before picking up microphones and delivering rallying words (written by Keiran Hurley) about culture and identity, hopes and aspirations, not just for a future Scotland, but worldwide.

Again, there was a free-form enthusiasm among the dancers, but as they whirled like spirited dervishes, or darted in and out of brief ensembles, the hectic joie-de-vivre – and the ongoing involvement of onlookers – was caringly grounded in making sure everyone had a hot’n’sweaty good time!