How do you choreograph a dance about hair? It all comes down to curiosity, says Scottish Dance Theatre’s artistic director Joan Clevillé.
The company is getting ready to screen a new free performance to celebrate International Dance Day on April 29 – and it all began before lockdown with a trip to South America.
Company member Pauline Torzuoli created Thin h/as h/air after seeing bizarre plants called Itla-okla that resemble hair while on tour.
“She had seen these plants when we were in South America,” explains Joan. “We were there in June 2019, in Columbia, Peru and Chile.”
Intrigued, Pauline went on to discover another curiosity called hair ice – a strange type of ice that grows on rotting wood. This led her to choreograph the dance while wondering: “aren’t trees the hair of the Earth?”
Joan says people might wonder: “How do you come to notice that trees are as the hair of the Earth – and how are you going to translate it to movement?”
He continues: “We invited the dancers to create something. The brilliant thing about dance is it encourages the development of curiosity. Pauline has this incredible curious and poetic look into the world.”
Thin h/as h/air was originally performed live as part of a showcase called SPUTNIK in December 2019. The solo work features dancer Yosuke Kusano, who has previously toured with SDT.
Without giving anything away, Joan confirms hair does feature on the stage and this “creates some very beautiful imagery.”
He reveals: “In the dance, we have got this figure who is getting curious about the environment around him. There is a very special environment … that he ends up playing with and interacting with. It’s about not knowing, researching and playing.”
This will be the world premiere of the Thin h/as h/air in its digital form as it has been filmed especially for new digital platform Rep Studios.
The 20-minute performance comes hot on the heels of the release of Jim McLean play Smile. You can sign up to watch it here.
“The last year has been all about learning how we deliver an audience experience that doesn’t feel second class – that they’re actually getting the real deal,” adds Joan.
The screening will be followed by a live Q&A session with the creative team and the performance will be available to watch afterwards via Rep Studios.
Duets in Dundee
The next offering from SDT will be a new full-length work called The Life and Times which runs from June 17-18. It will see the whole ensemble returning to Dundee Rep’s stage for the first time after the lockdown and broadcast live in a single, continuous shot.
Joan says the company is hard at work creating new content to share later this year: “Each dancer is creating a duet with someone who lives in Dundee and we’ve got everything from a one-year-old to someone who’s over 70 – and everything in between.
“Those will be filmed in different locations in Dundee.”