F or 27 years now, the Scottish Dance Theatre (SDT) from Dundee, Scotland, has been like a cauldron from which artistes and choreographers, across nations, have been stirring and serving thought-provoking dance and theatre. This year, its choicest creations — Luxuria (premiered in 2004), Drift (2008) and Dog (2010) — are being dished out in Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata. “Honestly,” says James MacGillivray, acting Artistic Director, SDT, “even though we have only four shows, there is longevity to this tour. We are hoping to meet and connect with dancers, dance companies and collaborators in India to build links in the future, and explore the possibility of a collective production.”
Opening its tour in Chennai last Sunday, SDT offered the results of their artistic inquiry through three pieces choreographed by established artistes from across the world. “The pieces we performed, are undoubtedly our signature pieces and easily among the more abstract of our growing repertoire,” MacGillivray says. Inspired by the many facets and foibles of human life, and its complex nature, SDT takes credit for creating work that is really about people. “There’s diversity among all the three pieces,” he explains. Having been part of them all in the past, he recognises the universal quality of the creations. Luxuria — the 33-minute-long opening piece, is almost “autobiographical, and explores the notion of desire and our insatiable quest for fulfilment.” In Drift — an 11-minute duet, James Wilton attempts to explore “loneliness and closeness, absolute commitment and high-risk trust.” Dog — the final 31-minute piece choreographed by Hofesh Shecter, is a group performance, and swings between “riotous celebrations and uncertain calm.”
For two months now, SDT’s group of 10 dancers have been rigorously reliving the final piece. “Four among the full-time dancers are new. So we had to adapt the work to fit into the bodies of these dancers,” MacGillivray says. It isn’t always easy, but the dancers who make it to SDT arrive with a firm foundation, and an open-mindedness to learn and blossom.
That quest for creative, cutting-edge, experimental expression is among the founding principles of SDT which is Scotland’s noted contemporary dance company. “To put it very simply, SDT’s mission has been to teach people to move and express themselves creatively,” MacGillivray says. In India, the SDT has packed its days with workshops and events that will allow students of dance and others to understand and appreciate contemporary dance, and SDT’s approach to it. “We are also working with schools, some of them being for special children, and attempting to teach the skills that will instil a sense of self-confidence, self-worth and trust among its participants,” MacGillivray informs.
In Delhi, SDT’s performance on October 30 at the Kamani Auditorium is part of the Delhi International Arts Festival that began on October 26. Beyond that, the SDT will hang out with dance companies, visit schools and colleges in the city, and conduct creative workshops that will help participants think a little differently.