Three at ZOO: 2Faced Dance Company, Scottish Dance Theatre & Scottish Ensemble, and iCoDaCo

ZOO TV online
August 19, 2020

David Mead

Shot in locations across Herefordshire in 2014, Coded Dreams was presented between the two- pieces that formed the double bill, Dreaming in Code, presented by 2Faced Dance Company at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015.

It may only be a touch over six minutes but Coded Dreams is a gem. Luke Rigg and Jake Humphreys square up to each other, circle and grapple with each other as Luke Evans’s smart directing sends them from forest to field, from maze to swimming pool. In these days of social distancing, the close-up partnering and fluid, easy lifts show us just what we are missing.

About halfway through, one of the dancers is put in a cardboard box. In a tardis-like transformation, he wakes in large white space. With choreography by Tamsin Fitzgerald, he twists and turns as if trying to make sense of everything, trying the resolve all the contradictions, come to terms with all the feelings. It is incredibly powerful, remarkably moving and , somehow I thought, very pertinent to today.

2Faced Dance in Coded DreamsScreenshot from film
2Faced Dance in Coded Dreams
Screenshot from film

Scottish Dance Theatre and Scottish Ensemble come together in these bones, this flesh, this skin, a digital work for solo violin and solo dancer by composer Martin Suckling, choreographer Joan Clevillé and cinematographer Genevieve Reeves. What makes it different, is that, even online, the viewer becomes an active participant in the experience in that her or she can select any of the 21 combinations of the three four-minute musical works and three four-minute choreographed films, playing with the audio and visual layers to decide how they experience the work.

It is fascinating to see the different effect that various combinations have although one common to all the visual variations is that each brings a powerful awareness of the dancers’ surroundings, to the extent that they become more important than the body itself. Indeed, the movement itself becomes largely secondary.

You really do start to notice the detail in dancer João Castro’s environment. Reeves’ close-ups of his jeans highlight the texture of the fabric, its folds and creases far more than the film does of his dance. Elsewhere, there are lingering shots of grasses, a stark metal security fence, the sky, even flies caught in the cobweb. Even inanimate objects seem to breathe and become alive.

João Castro in Joan Clevillé & Martin Suckling's these bones, this flesh, this skinScreenshot from film
João Castro in Joan Clevillé & Martin Suckling’s these bones, this flesh, this skin
Screenshot from film

To see just how much effect music has on how we perceive dance, try watching the same film with different versions of Suckling’s violin solo, played by Jonathan Morton. Watch a few variations and you also start to see subtle variations despite being on what is essentially the same journey.

That the film and music seem so close is hardly a surprise given that the latter was initially improvised to rehearsal footage and then reshaped the results as the film was cut. In one version, the music is slowed down to just 1/8th speed, which brings out the detail of the bow.

Lockdown may have forced the collaborators into a new way of working in these bones, this flesh, this skin but the end result is a new way of experiencing for us too. Fascinating.

For the full these bones, this flesh, this skin experience, visit

Also showing now is It Will Come Later by iCoDaCo (International Contemporary Dance Collective), a collaboration between international artists from Wales, Sweden, Hungary, Poland and Hong Kong seen at ZOO Southside in 2019.

Live, it’s performed in the round with an ever-rotating curtain centre-stage. Apparently, it, and the work as a whole, symbolises continual effort. It is certainly an effort to stick with it. It was a long hour when seen at ZOO, when there was actually some connection simply by being in the same space. It’s an even longer one online.

There are moments of tenacity. Occasional glimpses of fluidity too. You can see the effort, even on film, although what you don’t get is just how much the cast really sweat as they exert themselves. Among the very long list of creative credits (maybe that’s part of the problem), are two dramaturgs. The big issue is that, even when you know what it is trying to illustrate, and it isn’t that obvious, there is little to latch on to and it struggles desperately to connect.

These films and more are available until August 31 at