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Edinburgh Fringe 2017


James Wilton Dance

Genre: Acrobatics, Contemporary, Dance

Venue: Dance Base


Low Down

“Leviathan follows Ahab, a ship’s captain hell-bent on capturing the white whale: Moby Dick, a beast as vast and dangerous as the sea itself, yet beautiful beyond imagining. Ahab’s crew are drawn into the unhinged charisma of their captain, blindly following him towards almost certain destruction! “


Loosely based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Leviathan focuses on the search for Moby Dick, the mystical white whale. Six dancers of the James Wilton Dance company, including Wilton, who also choreographed the piece, perform athletic contemporary contact dance with acrobatic moves around the entire stage space. They leap, roll, slide, bounce across, around and over each other, continuously. The visceral muscular quality of the movement is outstanding and draws the viewer in immediately.

Strong music with a deep pulsating beat complements the choreography perfectly at the opening. They both work together to build the piece and draw attention to the poignant drama of the story, which is abstract and physically expressive. Like the waves in the ocean the dancers connect in groups, play, break away and find others with which to clash.

The piece is developed in six sections separated by only a quick flash of lights towards the audience – or are these the piercing eyes of Leviathan? Each section explores a different part of the story and those who take part: Ahab/Man; The White Whale/Nature; Mortality; Crew/Civilisation; Obsession; Pursuit; and Leviathan.

We discover the white whale, truly a thing of beauty – Sarah Jane Taylor is magnificent as she stretches to seemingly impossible extensions and oblique twists with such fibrous, sensuous and majestic muscularity of the whale. Utterly sublime and stunning!

Foreboding is in the air, the men (James Wilton, Michael Kelland, Harlan Rust, Samuel Baxter, Joel Pradas) beat the ground and punch their arms and fists high as they enact a forceful primal roar in unison, to support their leader and his quest to find the white whale.

Dramatic lighting design by Alan Dawson provides tension using several different angles and hues as the epic narrative develops.

Costume design by Vibeke Andersen of shades of beige trousers and grey long sleeve tops for the men and a remarkable white full body suit with couture bodice and shoulders for Taylor complement the visual story.

In each of the seven sections the music evolves to filmic expansive instrumental music swelling in strength – and poignancy – to zippy songs with lyrics, which delineate the mood well (all music is by Lunatic Soul).

Leviathan is a very good performance, with muscular acrobatic dance quality expressing an abstract version of a poignant story about our relationship to nature.