Scottish Dance Theatre: Ray review – joyful post-Covid communion

Scottish Dance Theatre: Ray review – joyful post-Covid communion

I’m welcomed in with a warm hello and the offer of a cushion, for sitting on the floor around the edges of the stage. There’s no hiding at the back of the auditorium here, it’s a congregation of performers and audience, the latter gathered in the round (chairs are also available), lights on so everyone can see each other. Ray feels very much like a post-Covid piece. A placard is held up that says: “It’s so good to see you.” The members of Scottish Dance Theatre come dressed in warm colours and bright faces, catching the audience’s eyes, marvelling at the opportunity for human connection.

The dancers have collaborated on the piece with Meytal Blanaru, an Israeli-born, Brussels-based choreographer who has developed her own style called Fathom High, drawing on the Feldenkrais method. Feldenkrais is a physical practice that works on detailed awareness of your movement, and the mind-body connection, with exercises taken at meditatively slow pace. Ray unfolds almost imperceptibly, with understated movement gently pulsating, expanding, contracting and changing shape or rhythm. Each dancer falls into a repetitive groove – a hip roving around its socket, or an arm bopping in the air – but it all adds up to a bigger organic form, and a community, with Benjamin Sauzereau’s music offering some happy funk (and later, dreamier moods).The performers keep involving the spectators. A dancer with closed eyes finds his way to another by listening to them saying his name and following the sound. Then audience members are invited to be his guide, quietly calling him with outstretched hands, reaching out to help. The metaphors are not complicated, but simplicity doesn’t mean these things aren’t profound: togetherness, attention, vulnerability, guidance, daring to look someone in the eye and hold their gaze, supporting each other, as when the group rush to the aid of one dancer fruitlessly jumping as if trying to grasp something too high, and scoop her up into the sky.It’s like a series of trust games: playful, whimsical and occasionally poignant or forlorn. It’s an ephemeral hour that grows from nothing, glows and evaporates. A lovely bunch of people; a lovely moment in time.
• Ray is at Déda, Derby, from 7-8 October; then touring.

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