Pros: Excellent choreography brings the best out in this talented dance company.
Cons: The concept for the piece sometimes gets lost in the performance.
As I made my way over Hungerford Footbridge to the Southbank, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful London looked at dusk. The concourse in front of the centre bustled with life and energy. I wondered whether the Southbank Centre could match the mood. It never fails to challenge its patrons with new, innovative productions; the latest example is Miann, a creation of the Scottish Dance Theatre and The One Ensemble. The Gaelic word for ‘desire’, Miann is inspired by the Callanish Stones, an arrangement of standing stones erected on the west coast of Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides. I was therefore mildly surprised to find no obvious depiction of the stones on stage. A circular performance area is flanked by members of The One Ensemble, providing musical accompaniment, while the stage itself features an open stone doorway.
The subtleties may have been lost on me, but I was confused by the lack of physical representation and couldn’t get to grips with the idea of a dance conveying the stones’ ritualism without props. Nevertheless, the dance company performs with commitment and enthusiasm. Amy Hollinshead is particularly outstanding, both solo and with other members of the company. Whilst I wouldn’t fault the dexterity of the dancers or the musicianship of the ensemble, there is no clear message regarding the production’s inspiration. With no spoken dialogue, expression through dance is the sole method of communication. Although desire and sensuality project clearly, the ritualistic influence of the Callanish Stones seems to be lost. Without the programme and online literature to draw on, I would never have known this piece was dealing with a key aspect of Celtic history. For a show that runs at just over an hour, the producers must be commended for the inclusion of such detailed choreography, but feel this type of performance will not gain much ground in mainstream theatre as it’s far too specialist. For dance fans, however, Miann provides an outstanding showcase for an extremely talented company of dancers.