Mary Woodward Review

Scottish Ballet Dive

Scottish Ballet Dive

**** (four stars)

Sophie Laplane’s latest piece for Scottish Ballet is just over thirteen minutes long but it’s packed with so many layers of sound and movement  that I was reaching for the repeat button almost as soon as I’d watched the last image, desperate to recapture the constantly-changing, fleeting moments of motion and stillness that make up this extraordinary piece.

The piece started to the sound of a diver’s breathing, but I was almost instantly distracted from the ballet by the music – a piano arrangement of Schubert’s Ständchen, which I know and love so well that I was pulled deep into the music and almost had to fight myself to turn my attention back to the dancing.  

A frozen man, dressed in white, was lying on the floor: he slowly uncurled from his foetal position.  Frenetic music broke into the stillness as a woman dressed in blue, in a blue room, irrupted into his space.  She flailed her hair and body about, drank an espresso, and vanished.  Schubert’s tranquility returned.

Dive makes constant interplay between blue and white costumes and spaces; motion and stillness; calm and frenetic music, and silence and breathing.  Dancers breathe puffs of blue vapour into the air.  People appear and disappear in instants, singly or in groups, in isolation or as a heap of bodies.  At times they are frozen mid-movement: an alpaca calmly walks among them.  

The kaleidoscopic whirl of ideas can’t be grasped at a first viewing, and invites many repeats. It’s fascinating to have the camera so close to, and moving among, the dancers: I can only guess how hard it is to keep perfectly still while a camera drifts past one, only millimetres away.  And yet again Sophie Laplane asks her dancers to do things which appear impossible even while one is seeing the movement with one’s own eyes.

Dive is an astonishing production both choreographically and technologically.  It could not have been performed live: I for one am incredibly grateful for lockdown’s restrictions’ providing the catalyst to new forms of creativity.

Let us hope that next time Sophie Laplane creates a new work we’ll be able to watch it live on stage: until then, watch and marvel at Dive.

Scottish Ballet Dive, On line, available on website till 31 May 2021 Go to:

Mary Woodward

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