On the Rocks, the largest arts festival of its kind in Scotland, changes management hands, so to speak, every year, and with this change of creative vision comes a different tone and style and medium-based emphasis each time. Some festivals are more theatre-heavy, some prefer the visual arts, and others seem to take a more multifaceted approach, trying to incorporate the various interests and talents shockingly present within the admittedly small, but vibrant student body at St Andrews. Timeless, the fifth annual independently affiliated dance show (or rather showcase) of On the Rocks, seemed to take pride in providing an engaging, technically stunning, and visually captivating show in the Barron Theatre.
The Barron Theatre, a traditional black box, strangely seemed an all too appropriate location for Timeless. Against a simple backdrop, the expertly choreographed movements and interactions of the dancers were allowed to shine on their own, unaided by a distracting set, an enormous pit band, or the hullabaloo of a more conventional theatrical set up. The show provided a merge of more traditional lyrical movements with a few unexpected twists that likely captivated audience members both familiar and unfamiliar with dance. I understood that multiple choreographers were involved in creating Timeless, a move I considered risky in itself, considering how each choreographer can have a favoured dance style, or can sometimes, particularly in a university setting, throw more content and choreography at a dancer than he or she can handle. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well orchestrated the show was as a whole, the different styles and tones of each choreographer’s work melding well with one another. Rather than a more slipshod smorgasbord of taste and style, these pieces were well choreographed for the space and the dancers, and were certainly not out of the realm of engagement for the audience, who met each dancer and dance with appreciation and delight.
Oftentimes dance as a medium, particularly to those unused to experiencing it live, can be tricky to appreciate to a novice viewer. Dancers rarely, if ever speak, a dance show has no real requirement for a clear narrative, and some movements can come off as unusual, if not funny, to the average viewer. Timeless showcased the ability of its production team to create something that was at times spellbinding, certainly engaging, and able to showcase the immense talent, and more importantly, passion, of its team. I was immensely disappointed it didn’t go for longer.