Based on Nan Sheperd’s homage to the Cairngorms, The Living Mountain, Into The Mountain is a daring new piece of work that culminates six years of research from Simone Kenyon. Consisting of a two-hour hike followed by a unique contemporary dance piece far off the beaten track, this incredible performance has been the highlight of Take Me Somewhere Festival.
From the outset, Into The Mountain committed to full immersion, encouraging us to surrender our senses to the landscape which inspired Sheperd’s text. The passion for this book from every member of the team is evident, from the facilitator of our walk to the dancers in the main piece, each member of the performance shares a passion for the text’s vision.
The hike up to the performance space uses quotes from the text to guide our experience, each perfectly chosen to pre-empt the piece we are about to see. It never feels forced, as we are invited to partake in activities that Sheperd describes in the book. The whole experience is incredibly calming, a feeling I rarely gain from an uphill hike in the Scottish rain.
As we enter the rainclouds we arrive at our destination, which feels like stepping through a proscenium arch formed especially for this piece. The performance itself is a testament to less is more, facing the elements with celebration rather than hesitance. The choreography from Kenyon is subtle and atmospheric, as each dancer has a unique relationship with the space around them, so that when performed in unison a perfect diverse community is formed. The movements are rooted in their connection with the landscape rather than mere performativity, celebrating the surroundings while honouring the source text. Speaking to the performers after they divulge that watching each group trek across the hill makes the audience seem like an equal part of the piece. As we watch the show you feel the exhaustion of audience and dancer alike, creating a rare comradery that engulfs the entire group. Overall it is very difficult to describe, as the piece is so rooted in the exact moment that it is witnessed, but nonetheless, as a whole it is deeply moving. I feel privileged to be part of a piece that has been six years in the making and thrilled that the product is nothing less than spectacular.
Into The Mountain was a spectacular piece of theatre that challenges the boundaries of the arts from start to finish. From its choreography to its concept, it was an experience I won’t forget for a while.
Review written by Rachel Baker.
Into the Mountain was shown from Thursday 30th May until Sunday 2nd June 2019 at Cairngorms National Park. To find out more about the production, visit here…