Scottish Ballet’s double bill of UK premieres at the Edinburgh International Festival offers two brooding, uncompromising contemporary pieces. First is French choreographer Angelin Preljoçaj’s MC 14/12 (Ceci est mon corps). The title refers to Jesus’s words: ‘this is my body.’
The opening, slow movement gives way to frenzied chaos – in which bodies are flung on to metal tables, depicting morgue or abattoir. It is meticulously choreographed, whilst still images recall Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper.’
The final stage shows flight or suicide in multiple triptych patterning. Mechanistic, devoid of love or sacrifice, MC 14/22 belies the altruism in Jesus’ words, yet its strikingly rich, darkly beautiful choreography lingers long in the mind.
Crystal Pite’s ‘Emergence’ sees patterning swarms, based on insects and birds, turn movement and dance into elegant rituals of propagation and survival. The dancers cluster together, limbs flexing and flickering; at one point the female dancers march on mass in a vertical line to repel and dominate their male counterparts.
Yet the most stark images is the essence of ‘emergence’ itself, creating highly charged theatrical moments. Movement comes in short, sharp, swipes and bursts. The company — 38 dancers – relish the challenge made more relevant in the climax by counting out loud; externalising the dancer’s inner metronome against Owen Belton’s hypnotic score. It might not be an easy evening, but this exposition of life’s dark matter, singular or otherwise, is full of menacing beauty not to be missed.