Under the directorship of Janet Smith, Scottish Dance Theatre has developed a varied repertoire that mixes entertainment and experiment. But Michael Popper’s new work tries too hard to please, as is evident from its irksomely wacky title: In Fact You Can Keep a Good Dog Down, But the Dog – Not Knowing This – Will Keep Trying to Get Up. In it, a woman has three dinner dates: a hangdog guy with a bushy tail, a bloke who skips off with the waiter and finally a vain merman on whom the cast dance fishy attendance. In between there is a lot of larking about with props, and an air steward pops up for some in-flight hospitality skits. But the piece never really takes off, and feels as overextended as its title.
Where In Fact You Can ... is lightweight, Willi Dorner’s succinctly named 404 is demanding. The stage is bare apart from sound equipment; the lights are stark; the eight dancers slouch in jeans and T-shirts. They are a disaffected, grungy group. Staggering and tripping over their own disjointed limbs, they seem as alien to themselves as to each other. A man makes a gun from his fist, a woman is dragged forcefully around the stage. With its intimations of violence and abuse, this is a disturbing work – yet it is also curiously uninvolving.
you sense both the idle tease of her caress and the aching desire it kindles... In many such delicate moments, Lorent coaxes both tenderness and rapture from her fresh-faced cast
Much the best piece is Liv Lorent’s Luxuria, at once lusciously sensual and yearningly romantic. The women cartwheel in long hooped dresses. The men twitch and tremble worryingly. Their shirts are laced with cords like loosened straitjacket restraints, which, as the couples spin and circle together, come to seem like webs of desire, or heart strings. A woman trails her dress back and forth across her partner’s body, and you sense both the idle tease of her caress and the aching desire it kindles in him. In many such delicate moments, Lorent coaxes both tenderness and rapture from her fresh-faced cast.