Tuesday, December 5

Scottish Ballet: Twice-Born – Edinburgh Festival Theatre

I defy anyone not to love Schachmatt by Spanish choreographer, Cayetano Soto. It translates as Checkmate and playfully works its way through a range of eras, drawing an ongoing smile from this reviewer.

Acting as a warm-up to Scottish Ballet’s latest work, Twice-Born (developed by new boy on the block, Dickson Mbi) it is a fabulously entertaining and quirky piece.

At the get-go your curiosity is piqued as a moody stage is slowly revealed. What follows is witty, unique and brilliantly executed by a top-notch team performing with precision and speed.

Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s CEO, watched Schachmatt two nights in a row: “I remember feeling instant joy because I was watching craft at its highest level,” he said. He knew immediately he wanted to bring it to the Scottish Ballet repertoire. Good move!

Photo: Andy Ross

It is world-class Contemporary Dance and a fitting adjunct to traditional ballet.

The second piece, a world premiere, called Twice-Born, is an original score and choreography by Olivier Award winning street dancer, Dickson Mbi. It delves into evolution and human nature.

This is an exploratory piece whose music moved me close to tears at one particular point. The intensity of this piece and the power of the ensemble dancing was beautifully contrasted with the powerful solos from Marge Hendrick and Rishan Benjamin. Twice-Born works on many levels: emotionally; as a story; as a political message. 

It encompasses a lot of themes – evolution; matriarchy; barriers; leadership; death; rebirth; change; oppression. I’d have liked a sprinkling of sunshine and frivolity amid the sombre narrative. That’s not to say it wasn’t impressive. It was. Most definitely. I simply think that Dickson Mbi has more in the tank. 

Scottish Ballet is to be applauded for investing in new talent. This year it launched the Next Generation Campaign with a target of ten new works (short films, one act works and full-length ballets) by 2028. The aim is to give opportunities to new choreographers and everyone else involved in creating an imaginary world on stage.

Twice Born is the first one-act work to tour Scotland. It is a very promising start.

Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield

Reviewed: 20th October 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.