Pros: Fresh and thrilling work from rising star choreographer Botis Seva.
Cons: Sustaining this level of intensity works at this length, but it would be interesting to see a longer work from Seva.
Choreographer Botis Seva is only 24 years old and it shows, in the best way possible. His work has an urgent exhilarating energy that surged from the stage right to the back of the theatre and seemed to buzz in the air long after the applause had ended.
Two of the most recognisable dance forms in the world, ballet and hip-hop, appeared at times not so much to be having a conversation as having a blazing row in this new piece by Seva for Scottish Dance Theatre. The blistering, pulsing soundtrack began with a voice-over of a ballet mistress, the company evenly spaced as if for class with erect postures and shaped arms. This was soon disrupted by distorted beats and the dancers jerking and undulating. Ballet lines were drawn in space, then slashed through by pops, locks and body waves. At times it was like watching a company of malfunctioning robots, but it always felt progressive – like seeing a new language being formed.
In a section for the whole company, dancers travelled across the stage with ferocious energy, sometimes shunting from foot to foot around each other like tribal warriors. The clever costumes – net skirts which referenced romantic ballet tutus – were layered black over pink, and changed from one colour to the other depending on how they were lit.
Numbers projected onto the stage floor suggested the counts in a dance class but also ideas about worth and individuality. Ballet, seen by many as elitist, and frequently accused of favouring a physical aesthetic which discriminates against black bodies, has been kidnapped and taken somewhere fresh in this work, which returned to the ballet class line-up as it ended. As the dancers stared out at the audience an audio sample played the words, “people are either getting paid over or under what they deserve.”
As the lights faded to black my thoughts turned to the Nicholas Brothers – the famously acrobatic virtuoso tap dancers of the 30s and 40s. Baryshnikov called them the greatest dancers he had ever seen, and they worked with George Balanchine. Despite their mastery they were paid less than white dancers at the time. It is good to see Seva’s fierce originality collaborating so fruitfully with Scottish Dance Theatre. It suggests to me that a better balance is possible in dance in 2017, especially if it’s the kind of balance that knocks you out of your seat.
Creation and Choreography: Botis Seva
Music Composition: Torben Lars Sylvest
Lighting: Emma Jones
Costume: Alison Brown
Dancers: Kieran Brown, Harry Clark, Francesco Ferrari, Amy Hollinshead, Anne-Charlotte Hubert, Alison Jaques, Jessie Roberts-Smith, Oscar Pérez Romero, James Southward, Astrid Sweeney
Producer: Scottish Dance Theatre
Booking Until: 20 August 2017
Box Office: 0131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/tutumucky