Scottish Ballet’s explosive double-bill of Angelin Preljocaj’s MC 14/22 (Ceci est mon corps) and Crystal Pite’s Emergence showcased the incredible character, depth, strength and artistry of the company and they’re formidable dancers and has firmly seeded Scottish Ballet as one of top companies in Europe.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Preljocaj’s MC 14/22
MC 14/22 is a dark, confronting, dramatic exploration of the The Last Supper, a powerful provocative display of masculinity displayed by 12 beautiful male dancers.
Opening with a reverential and somber display of tenderness between two male dancers as one bathes the other, in contrast to a lone dancer tearing strips of brown packing tape violently plastered to the stage. In the background 6 tables are stacked, each containing one dancer, moving slowly turning, rising, falling but confined.
Dressed in black flowing skirts, bare chested, muscles abound, the dancers move with strong male pride and are mesmerising in their immersion and devotion to the repetitive movements that swings from quiet and empty to loud erratic moments.
The dancers move through distinct scenes, each with their own story, some more subtle, others drastically overt examining and provoking the male form and inter-relationship. Duets and solos reveal anger, domination, oppression, love, compassion.
The artistic and physical prowess of the dancers is showcased in a scene that feels like a morgue with tables lined up, bodies lain on top lifeless, dead. Each body is thrown, dragged and contorted by another, it’s an amazing feat seeing such strong bodies without life, utterly convincing in their death.
As each scene comes to a crescendo, it is punctured with confronting moment, like the lone dancer who sings in a high tone and is smothered in turn by two dancers, who try to withhold, reduce and remove his voice.
It seems Preljocaj’s choreography doesn’t want us to get comfortable even with the uncomfortable. MC 14/22 becomes even more powerful as we move through each scene.
One of the most exciting scenes comes near the end. A confessional appears to be created, the tables in a line, dancers kneel, they bang the sides of their heads on the tabletops, arms raised, their movements repeating, the pace is fast, the music explosive.
Again, just as we settle into the movement, sit in awe of the dancers, we are side swiped by a swift change. A lone dancer performs a short set of glorious movements, filled with freedom and pride. He repeats the same steps over and over, until he is joined by a dancer who takes the brown packaging tape and tapes his body, restricting his movements.
In defiance he performs the steps despite his arm taped, then his leg, then his chest, then his eyes, then his whole body and he keeps dancing, keeps repeating the steps until he finally collapses. This moment creates a distinct reaction from the audience, some laugh nervously, other gasp, it’s a deeply disturbing moment, one that makes us all uncomfortable as we watch the power and joy stripped from another.
MC 14/22 is a powerful piece that creates a dark landscape that showcases the sculptured bodies and incredible artistry of the companies male dancers. Through this challenging and disturbing piece that introduced each dancer separately and as a whole complement.
Crystal Pite – Emergence
Crystal Pite’s Emergence is the perfect antidote, as this piece showcased the company’s classical ballet foundation and skills, highlighting the female dancers. The opening prologue with Sophie Martin and Evan Loudon was immediately captivating, placed in an underworld, their pas de deux was electric. Together they transform into insect-like creatures. Sophie pointe work, flexibility and artistry transfixing.
Pite creates a landscape full of torsos of bare chested male dancers crawling across the floor spider-like in a subterranean world, their bodies animalistic, arms angular, jarring, rapidly moving to the intense buzzing musical score.
Dressed in black leotard bodiced costumes the female cast swarm onto the stage high on pointe, stalking and striking, leaping. Pite’s exacting and complex choreography of rapid arm movements, fast pointe work is breathtakingly performed. The female dancers are powerful with beautiful lines, each dancer shines individually, but together as a swarm of dancers they are magical.
The moment when all the female dancers buzz onto the stage in one long line en pointe is sublime, the male insects rush onto the stage, they come together, the women counting each movement in heavy breathes that creates a vocal movement adding to physical intensity.
The entire cast fills the stage, with attacking relevés en pointe, complex arrangements of the arms moving in unison that is like watching type-rope walking, for the fear and excitement of the possibility of the slightest mistiming or mistake, but of course Scottish Ballet dancers execut the exhilarating choreography with perfection.
Emergence is one of the most enthralling pieces and Crystal Pite continues to shine as singularly one of the most important choreographers of our time. Emergence is definitely the show stopper of the two pieces.
I adore Pite’s work, I am mesmerised by her ability to take a concept and translate, construct and execute the creation of an entirely immersive moment that resonates forever. Her unique voice, her unique way in which she asks her dancers to move, the challenging topics, her research, her passion and intellect which she brings to life on the stage is why she is the future of dance.