Soiled bodies writhe across across a primordial swamp in earthbound exploration, rising from time to time in contorted gestures. Gradually these develop into recognizable, repeated motifs and group sequences. Individuals begin to interact, approaching each other then falling apart while some come together, bodies clasped in intimate embrace. Sustained pauses are reignited until the energy and relentlessness of the search which dominates this work resumes in apparent moto perpetuo.
. The black uniformity of most of the costumes creates a semblance of group cohesion, yet each is different, accentuating the individuality of its members allowing other contrasting costumes to assume greater significance.
Coming together and falling apart are central themes in Miann, a Gaelic word signifying a strong melancholic desire; a craving or longing that can relate to the spiritual, in terms of a search for meaning, or the physical, as in sexual fulfilment. For Fleur Darkin, choreographer and artistic director of Scottish Dance Theatre, the falling apart came with a painful bereavement; the coming together was with the dancers on a visit to Callanish on the isle of Lewis. They rehearsed in woodlands, on beaches, up to their knees in lush grasses and grovelling in the ancient peat bogs. The work’s origins in these environs are vividly present throughout
The inherent tribal, ritualistic air and miann is supported by the original music from Glasgow based quartet The One Ensemble. It conjures up the words of the primitive Caliban:
……...the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again;
Haunting woodwind and strings create mysterious melodies. At times, songs accompany the dancers, posing questions and expressing the visions within while in contrasting sequences drums generate powerful, rhythmic sequences. An outstanding feature of this piece is the unity of mood and intent achieved the seamless interweaving of movement and music.
A centrally placed gnomen structure harks back to the astronomical significance of the Callanish stones, the passing of time and the cycles within which we exist. With its chain curtain it divides the performance area and provides a pivotal point around which dancers move, while serving as both a barrier and a gateway to the development of relationships. At times it seems to assume almost totemic significance and when its pinnacle is gazed upon lifts the dancers from the predominantly low-level movement into body extensions. It glistens in the sharp, clear- white lighting that only occasionally softens to an amber hue in response to changes in mood. The black uniformity of most of the costumes creates a semblance of group cohesion, yet each is different, accentuating the individuality of its members allowing other contrasting costumes to assume greater significance.
As the programme points out, “in the process and in the piece, a community is born. Relationships form, twist, blossom and fade. Love is made, and lost. There are moments of stillness, movement, remembering, imagining and longing.” Miann enables us to become part of that community and invites us to share the intimate space in which those elements exist.