Joan Clevillé: 'I'm not interested in imposing any political agenda on the audience but it's definitely about being thought-provoking'

This article is from 2019

Joan Clevillé: 'I'm not interested in imposing any political agenda on the audience but it's definitely about being thought-provoking.'

Fleur Darkin's parting shot at Scottish Dance Theatre has left the company, and us, with a night of people, politics and celebration

She's no longer at the helm, but Fleur Darkin's impact on Scottish Dance Theatre is still being felt. The former artistic director had a great eye for ground-breaking choreographers, bringing in several during her time with the Dundee company – the last of which are Brazilians Felipe de Assis and Rita Aquino and their show Looping Bahia: Overdub.

'Fleur met Felipe and Rita in Brazil,' explains Joan Clevillé, who has now taken over at Scottish Dance Theatre. 'She got to know their work and invited them to Dundee to create a version that would suit the company and the context here in Scotland.'

And so Looping: Bahia: Overdub became Looping: Scotland Overdub, a work that's part-show, part-installation, part-party. And, as Clevillé says, 'it's a very different proposition from the usual experience where you sit in an auditorium and watch the dancers onstage.'

A collaboration with Optimo Records, DJs JD Twitch and Bake and writer Kieran Hurley, the show may be billed as a late-night dance party but it isn't afraid to tackle a few deeper issues around freedom and revolution.

'I'm not interested in imposing any political agenda on the audience,' says Clevillé, 'but it's definitely about being thought-provoking and encouraging debate. I think it's really important that we engage with questions that are relevant for people – and the idea that we're going to do that through music and the body is really exciting. It's definitely something we should be doing as a company.'

All twelve of the company's dancers will be performing, but they're not the only ones expected to break a sweat. Looping: Scotland Overdub also celebrates the notion of ceilidh and its original meaning as a community gathering; a chance to imagine a new way of being in the world, with people who are different from yourself. So while you might enter the space alone or with a friend, by the end, you may well find yourself bonding with somebody you never met before.

'It's a combination of watching and doing,' says Clevillé of the show's format. 'For me, it's always important that there is an invitation to get involved, rather than an imposition – because I hate the idea of forced participation. There are moments in the piece where it's clear we need to stand back and watch, and then there are invitations – from basic walking together to bouncing to a rhythm.

'And as the piece goes on, the propositions get progressively more ambitious, and it's great to see how people go with that little by little. Then at the end, they find themselves wondering, "How did I end up here, all sweaty standing next to a stranger?". I think that's the beauty of the show.'

Looping: Scotland Overdub, ZOO Southside, 19–24 Aug, 10.30pm, £12–£14 (£10–£12).

Scottish Dance Theatre – Looping: Scotland Overdub

Performance-party blending Scottish and Brazilian dance traditions.