Scottish Dance Theatre: Process Day review at Zoo Southside, Edinburgh – ‘oddly scintillating’

Scottish Dance Theatre's Process Day. Photo: Brian Hartley Scottish Dance Theatre's Process Day. Photo: Brian Hartley
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Echoes of Nijinsky’s faun emerge in Sharon Eyal’s mysterious Process Day, a work danced with commanding presence by every member of Scottish Dance Theatre.

Instead of upward-facing palms, Eyal’s faun-like figure has his hands on his hips, a touch of 21st-century sass that’s matched by a spare electronic staccato score, punctuated by the sounds of gongs and something like a dental drill. The dancers – in beige and black bodysuits – inhabit some unrecognisable techno territory, in which individual and ensemble somatic impulses play out amid atmospheric gloom.

The faun-man seems driven by orgasmic imperatives – torso shuddering with sensual alertness, he scuttles on demi-pointe towards another dancer, off whose rigid forearm he later dangles. The phallic forearm and fist becomes a striking visual trope: there’s a confounding image in which a female dancer stands impassively yet powerfully in a deep plie, underneath which a man’s clenched hand and arm rocks back and forth, like a strange and insistently androgynous reimagining of a Hindu goddess.

Elsewhere, the company converges in twitchy tandem: there are woodpecker head actions and weirdly legato head butts. Perhaps Eyal’s work tends towards the impenetrable, but the unfamiliarity of her aesthetic is also its advantage – sophisticated and oddly scintillating.

Scottish Dance Theatre’s dancers excel in a wonderfully peculiar evocation of a nocturnal, techno-filled world