On Friday night, my friend and I undertook the treacherous walk – short, but grisly nonetheless – from St Regulus Hall to the Byre Theatre. Chilly, and lamenting the decision to attend university in Scotland, we soggily made our 7.30pm deadline to watch the Dance Society’s end-of-year production ‘Inside Out’.
Historically, despite my excitement and enthusiasm to review this production, my personal experiences with dance have been mixed. I did ballet lessons as a small girl, which I obstinately despised – attempting to smash gender stereotypes since ’01, but other than that, my associations with dance have been fairly minimal. Admittedly, I am in this field, for want of a better word, a novice and as such, my review should be taken with a pinch of salt.
The production was certainly ambitious. The ten different styles of dance performed – multiple different dances of each category were sporadically represented over the course of the evening – were created by over twenty choreographers. A cast of over 130 dancers – ranging from beginners to advanced – swarmed across the stage, which was overwhelming, but not necessarily in a bad way.
With so much variety, ‘Inside Out’ was certainly admirably diverse. However, there were certain facets of the production which were somewhat questionable, the real dilemma being the music accompanying introduction videos for each piece which was so abruptly and carelessly muted instead of being gently faded out. This, as well as the somewhat ill-timed lighting cues, lent an unprofessional edge to the proceedings, which were otherwise very enjoyable and jolly.
However, given that it was largely an amateur production, it would have been wrong to go in with the expectation of slick choreography and perfectly timed technical execution. I really enjoyed the fact that it was not just the most advanced dancers who were selected to represent the Dance Soc, but those who had taken it up as a hobby too – either for fun, or with the intention of one day becoming like those advanced super-humans who bounded and leapt around the stage like graceful, frolicking deer on the first day of spring.
Particular highlights of the evening were the Blue Angels hip hop group, who brought a definite, defiant energy to the stage – particularly when the backing track cut out and they began their fierce Stomp-style routine – and the Advanced jazz routine, which was breathtaking in its fluidity and timing. I also very much enjoyed the Highland dancing, which stirred a sense of Scottish spirit amongst the audience; I found myself wishing that I had a tiny skirt to jig around in.
What I will say is that amongst amateur and advanced performers alike (and all those in between), the joy was palpable, and what the production lacked in polish, it made up for in a collective enthusiasm, emanating an energy which reverberated around the room, making even the most stoic and solemn, I am sure, feel the urge to dance. The beaming smiles of the performers infected the audience with a sense of liberation which ultimately negated and made us overlook the technical flaws. All in all, a good and cheerful way to spend an otherwise miserable Thursday evening.