Scottish Dance Theatre and The One Ensemble collaborate on Miann
New dance and music piece debuts at 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Creative friendship lies at the heart of Scottish Dance Theatre’s new show, Miann. Kelly Apter talks to artistic director, Fleur Darkin about her collaborative choices.
The Edinburgh Fringe may be the largest arts festival in the world, but it’s still a place where small, important moments can happen. Like in 2013, when Scottish Dance Theatre (SDT) and Glasgow-based music group, The One Ensemble shared a venue at Summerhall.
Checking out her stable-mates during a spare moment, SDT’s artistic director, Fleur Darkin had her expectations confounded.
‘The One Ensemble’s show was full of surprises,’ she recalls. ‘There they all were: musicians sitting at serious instruments – and then suddenly they burst into song and started playing analogue tapes. Their playfulness was infectious, and I was very taken with the sound they made. I felt together we could create gold.’
And so, the seed of Miann was sewn. But it was not until SDT embarked on a tour of the Scottish Highlands earlier this year, that the show really began to grow. Stopping off on the Isle of Lewis, Darkin and her dancers absorbed the atmosphere at Callanish and emerged ready to get creative.
Based in London, prior to her move to Scotland in 2012, Darkin is well aware of the impact her new surroundings are having on her.
‘Scotland is teaching me how the earth changes, and seeing first hand the destruction and abundance that time brings is profound,’ she says. ‘We rehearsed in the forest and on the beach, to try to capture the sensuality of the land – soil and sand and forest floor, and you can feel it in the piece.’
The Gaelic word for craving or longing, Miann also benefits from the creations of award-winning designer Alexander Ruth. Having emerged from a career in fashion in London and Paris, Ruth now focuses his attention on performance-based design, rather than the commercial world.
He first caught Darkin’s eye during the 2013 Linbury Prize – the UK’s most prestigious award for stage design – which Ruth won.
‘I am full of admiration for his talent,’ says Darkin. ‘We both wanted to find a primitive sense for Miann, which wasn’t attached to a historical period. So we spent a lot of time playing with ideas and going through archives of Scottish crofters.’
With all three aspects of the collaboration in place, Miann was born. But for Darkin, another essential element has been the dancers. As she says of the choreographic process, ‘they are in my hands, and I am in theirs’. For the dancers themselves, Ruth’s costumes and The One Ensemble’s music inevitably play a pivotal role in what happens on stage.
‘The dancers look so heartbreaking and pure in the costumes – the fabric moves against and with them,’ says Darkin. ‘And they are inspired by and inspiring to the musicians – there is a powerful ritual going on between these two forms that need each other. It’s primitive.’
Summerhall, 0845 874 3001, 8—17 Aug (not 12), 7.55pm, £12 (£10).