Mark Morris Dance Group

Mark Morris Dance Group

His Majesty's, Aberdeen

Mary Brennan

Time was, the Mark Morris Dance Group was a familiar sight in Scotland: a highlight in several Edinburgh International Festivals, a hot ticket during subsequent UK tours. It's not clear why that fell away. The company's last Scottish showing was in Edinburgh (2009) - this one-night-only in Aberdeen proved a bitter-sweet reminder of how much Morris and his group are missed.

Moving from Mendelssohn to Ivor Cutler - yes, that Ivor Cutler, of the spindly voice and funny, maverick songs - these dances come filtered through the prism of human experience. Because Morris's acute musicality burrows under the surface of rhythms, he can find, and express, the emotional (or intellectual) subtext that is the heart-beat of a work.

This is certainly so in his most recent work, Words. Set to Mendelssohn - his Song Without Words played live by Georgy Valtchev(violin) and Yegor Shevtsov (piano) - there is a sense of what's unspoken in relationships, and of chapters in the lives of bright young things who skip and whirl through carefree friendships or spring-time romances, but who disappear as the pages turn.

As in A Wooden Tree, where a jolly band of boys and girls - appropriately child-like in costume and in gung-ho playfulness - discover the truths in Cutler's quirky outlook, there's a hint of innocence on the cusp of adult worldliness in Words.

No naivete whatsoever in the combative interaction of Jenn and Spencer, where Jenn Weddel and Brandon Randolph are locked in a love-hate physicality that tingles with power shifts as Morris delivers the stuff of a Bette Davis screen saga with just two dancers.

Only half the company ever came on-stage but, ending in the blazing stomp of Polka, this was always dance at unstinting full strength.