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Scottish Dance Theatre - A Visitation
Published on Friday, 28 August 2009

It’s like the dark room in the attic you know you shouldn’t visit, but still do. In Ina Christel Johannessen’s intriguing ghostly dance A Visitation, we enter a world of white faces and eyes that are darkened with black kohl pencil; it’s a world where tartan-clad people clash with the spirits.

There’s a sense of uneasy containment to A Visitation - as if this is not the first time the worlds have interacted, but the characters are still not certain as to how it will end. The audience has to work to understand this world; much is unknown as the five ghosts mingle and tease five humans. With the humans dressed in tartan and the ghosts recognisably dressed in white, Johannessen has further distinguished the two worlds through their different codes of movement. There’s fluidity to the flicking, deft, and often circular movement of the spirits, whereas the humans move in a sharper and more linear way.

Naomi Murray’s ghostly spirit is a standout. Moving with an unpredictable glee, she slips like gossamer through hands, and exuberantly abandons herself to an almost uncontrollable dance force. At times comical, she later fights and thrashes with an almost knowing resignation. Simultaneously puckish and depraved, she glances out from her darkened eyes as if she could unleash mayhem at any point.

In contrast, the humans move from a more ordered place. Solene Weinachter’s character looks like she’s a woman used to being obeyed; both determined and restrained, she scoops through the air with beautifully sharp movements.

The music by Svarte Greiner and Elegi hangs in the air, then clatters, saws and hums. The movement gets increasingly more frenetic as the humans circle the one remaining spirit who will not go quietly. A Visitation is a challenging yet satisfying piece - as we glimpse worlds that may be best left alone.

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