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THE SCOTSMAN, Sensual beauty of Stuart’s dancing is moving highlight - Christopher Bowen (07/03/1992)

New Moves Across Europe is the full title of Nikki Milican’s programme at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow. Yet even though Meg Stuart’s two companion dancers in her Disfigure Study are Portuguese, and the piece has largely been funded with European money, there can be no doubt that the thrust of Stuart’s choreography springs from her native New York.

We see it in the easy flow of the body from loose-limbed fluidity to sharp, tight little movements; it manifests itself in de layering of motion, the highs and lows of stretched extensions and squat ground work; and we hear it in the urban jungle beat of Hahn Rowe’s eclectic, babbling score.

Watching Disfigure Study is something akin to voyeurism: everything is pared down and there are no superfluous flourishes of movement. This naked physical vocabulary is used through a series of encounters, either with pars of the dancer’s own body, or with each other.

So we have an opening vignette where a man’s bared legs, picked out in light, hang ominously above the prostate figure of a woman. They move seductively, the woman stirs and begin to caress these strangely severed limbs. The movements grow frantic until the final image of strangled capitulation.

At other points a dancer’s own limbs seem to take on their own lives, probing and attacking their owner’s bodies. In one mesmerising sequence Stuart supports the body of Carlota Lagido by merely holding and manipulating her head. The extraordinary feeling of trust this image conjures is continually jeopardised by the ferocity of the movements, yet it is never broken.

Later, with Francisco Camacho, Stuart engages in a predatory duet; a chase sequence in which the pair slither and slide across the surface of the floor like hungry crocodiles. The sheer quality of movement, from all three participants, is impressive and Stuart’s inventiveness is, at times, breath taking. A dark and often disturbing work Disfigure Study is, nevertheless, the highlight of New Moves so far.

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