Scottish Ensemble review – euphoric club moves to the tune of Bach

Dance City, Newcastle upon Tyne
The Scottish Ensemble and Andersson Dance team up for an infectious, sonorous dance interpretation of the Goldberg Variations

The composition of Bach’s Goldberg Variations will always be mysterious. Were they really a musical sheep-counting exercise for the benefit of an insomniac ambassador? A harmonic exegesis of the Ptolemaic universe? A private joke at the expense of an unkind critic? Or maybe, as this remarkable collaboration between the Scottish Ensemble and Andersson Dance suggests, the roots of acid house?

A fidgety flurry of semi-quavers in the first variation causes one of the dancers to develop a twitch. It becomes infectious, until the whole ensemble – dancers and musicians alike – have broken out their most euphoric club moves. By the end of the sequence, the double bassist is literally running rings round her instrument. It would be pointless if the playing were in any way compromised by such hyperactivity. But the string arrangement, based on Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s trio version of 1985, has a sonority and texture to which the choreography provides astute, visual commentary. Unison lines draw the dancers into strict synchronisation; the canons send a ripple of repeated gestures through the company like a series of electric shocks.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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