Scottish Dance Theatre (4 stars)

Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 27 Oct


David Attenborough would be proud. Not only has Scottish Dance Theatre produced an accessible, fun and thought-provoking new work ?" but they do some pretty nifty animal impressions too. Watching the dancers stalk, strut and gambol around the stage, running the gamut from meerkat to lion, you half expect Attenborough’s voice to cut in and tell us what fine specimens they are.

The latest creation by Scottish Dance Theatre’s artistic director, Janet Smith, Touching Zulu, was inspired by a visit to the Kwazulu-natal province in South Africa. Depicting life on the open plain, with all its diversity, freedom and threats, the dancers have a truly animal quality which goes beyond pure mimicry and into the realm of physical embodiment.

As modern life expands to fit the needs of an increasing population, Smith makes a powerful statement about man and beast living in disharmony. Traffic noises rage overhead, empty drinks cans litter the stage, and the laws of nature begin to shift. Recent changes in personnel have seen some of SDT’s well-loved dancers move on to pastures new. But the 11-strong company has regrouped in fine style. Performing Smith’s new work, and Jan de Schynkel’s previously seen No Stronger Than A Flower, with intelligence and vigour.

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