“A powerfully bittersweet artistic statement”: Scottish Ballet’s ‘Indoors’ Review

Lockdown has presented unprecedented challenges to the live performance industry, with the sector struggling to remain viable. However, despite these immense pressures, some companies have taken it upon themselves to carry on providing their audiences with entertainment, using challenging and innovative methods. One such company is Scottish Ballet, who on 22 July 2020 premiered their lockdown production, Indoors.

Created by resident choreographer Sophie Laplane, in collaboration with in-house filmmaker Eve McConnachie, Indoors is a clever way of using the lockdown for creative ends. Devised and filmed over one week during lockdown, all 36 of Scottish Ballet’s company perform in front of their doors at home, in a piece designed to explore the ways we can open our doors to new possibilities.

Firstly, the number of ways you can open a household door is a revelation. Lockdown has had many of us spending more time in our homes than ever before, and the cast of the Scottish Ballet have seemingly used this time to become at one with their hinged housemates. In the absence of a professionally-designed set, the visual look of the film is consistent. There is creative use of the single frosted-glass doorway, positioned centre of the screen, with a light placed behind it to provide a spotlight effect.

The production quality is high, with a professional sheen to the image that lifts the film out of the webcam and Zoom-focused solutions seen so often on TV at the moment. This extra effort is greatly appreciated.

The choreography is accomplished in its creativity. One dancer’s action is carried on by that of the adjacent dancer, such that the whole big scene appears joined-up. One can only imagine the difficulty of performing something like this in isolation when the visual and spatial cues from fellow performers are absent, each performer having to estimate their placement on ‘stage’. Commendations are due to every one of them.

A powerful part of this choreography is the focus on connectivity and proximity. At a time when we are having to keep physical distance, this virtual format might have accentuated the distance between the performers, and also between themselves and their audience. However, the choreography where the dancers appear ‘connected’ to their neighbours makes a powerfully bittersweet artistic statement: they use the distanced format to bring themselves closer than ever before, through the fusion of their movements. All of this is done with an optimistic tone, aided by setting the film to Papageno, Papagena by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which gives the piece a lively lilt and brings Laplane’s choreography to life. The timing is good and the synchronisation is the best that can be expected from a piece so ambitiously put together in these circumstances.

Indoors successfully makes the best of the lockdown conditions. It does not try to ignore or compensate for the lockdown situation and recreate something more traditional, but instead leans into, and owns, the situation that led to its creation.

Indoors is available to watch on YouTube here.

 

Featured image credit: Scottish Ballet

 

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