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New Scottish Dance Theatre artistic director Joan Cleville keeping Scottish audiences in the Loop as new piece Looping: Scotland Overdub begins national tour with Universal Hall, Findhorn show lined up

By Kyle Walker

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JOAN Cleville is having a break when we speak – and after how busy the previous month has been for him, nobody could lay any blame on him whatsoever.

The new artistic director for the Dundee-based Scottish Dance Theatre has just spent the last month at the Edinburgh Fringe with the company, with a gruelling show schedule.

But Barcelona-born Joan has been relishing the busy Fringe schedule. “I love it!” he exclaims. “It’s a great experience for us, because it gives the company a lot of international and national exposure, and it’s a great place to forge relationships and meet people and other artists, promoters, etcetera.

“And also, what I really love from the artist’s point of view and the dancer’s point of view is the opportunity to perform on a run, which is something really rare these days where you get to perform a show six days in a row in our case.

“You just grow and learn about the pieces when you get the opportunity to perform them many times in a row, so that was really enjoyable.”

Joan is enjoying the rest while he can, because this weekend sees the company embarks on their autumn tour of Scotland. “It never stops, nooooo!” he laughs. “Which is also great!”

The show that Scottish Dance Theatre are bringing on the road is a fascinating sounding fusion of styles – appropriate as the show is a fusion of companies.

Looping: Scotland Overdub is a collaborative effort between the Dundee-based Scottish Dance Theatre and Brazilian collective 7Oito, fusing the South American country’s traditional street party styles with Scotland’s traditional ceilidh.

The show is based on 7Oito’s original production, Looping: Bahia Overdub. “It was created in the city of Bahia in Brazil, and it was based on a Brazillian street party culture,” Joan explained.

Scottish Dance Theatre artistic director Joan Cleville.
Scottish Dance Theatre artistic director Joan Cleville.

“They’re exploring these ideas of the street party – celebration and as a space that has a political resonance and political potential insofar as a place where you can meet others, and otherness.

“And I suppose that’s what the piece is, it’s a series of attempts by the dancers to negotiating each other, getting comfortable around each other, a series of invitations to the audience to watch what they’re doing, their dance, but also gentle invitations to join at some point.

“I think hopefully that it’s an invitation rather than an imposition, because there’s nothing I hate more than an immersive performance where you have to take part, and you kind of take away the choice from people.”

When 7Oito were commissioned by Joan’s predecessor as artistic director to remake the show that would suit the Scottish cultural context, they had to find a new framing device – Scotland’s street party scene is, as readers will know, slightly lacking.

But those ideals could be found in the traditional ceilidhs of the Highlands.

“The idea of traditional ceilidh emerged as this space – especially in communities in the Highlands – where people shared, communities coming together to share music, to share dance, to share songs, an opportunity for everyone to actually come together in one space.

“And so that’s a little bit what the piece has become, this fusion between Brazillian street party culture and ceilidh culture, very much with this socio-political background that the script from Kieran Hurley is bringing – and then with a soundscore mixed live with a DJ.

“So it’s a really fun experience!”

n Scottish Dance Theatre and 7Oito bring Looping: Scotland Overdub to the Universal Hall, Findhorn on Saturday night. The show begins at 8pm and tickets cost £12 (£10 concession, £8 under-16s). For more info, go to www.scottishdancetheatre.com

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