Life’s journey spelled out by Scottish dancer Charlotte McLean at Dancelive Aberdeen

Charlotte Mclean. Photo by James Keats

Dance is the language of choice for professional contemporary dance performer Charlotte Mclean, who will be expressing how it feels to be a Scottish woman in a solo performance brought bang up to date for Dancelive, Aberdeen’s contemporary dance festival.

Charlotte created ‘And’ three years ago, but as artist in residence at Citymoves – the Aberdeen dance agency behind Dancelive – she has been able to develop the piece and giving it fresh relevance, reflecting on how she feels about the world now. It’s a plea of celebration, anger, happiness and insecurity about how she feels today.

Charlotte hails from Arbroath, and admits she had no experience of contemporary dance was until seeing a performance by the Scottish Dance Theatre in Dundee.

It made a big impression, and after attending evening classes run by the company, she headed off to London Contemporary Dance School, graduating with a first class honours degree. She’s danced all over the world and after Dancelive, which runs from October 17-20, she will be returning to London and Switzerland where she’s involved in freelance dance projects.

Charlotte says: “People may be unsure of what contemporary dance is, but this festival makes it all really accessible. It’s all taking place over one weekend at different venues and different times and different formats.

“It’s a great chance to discover dance and there’s so much going on that there is something to suit all interests. I’m really looking forward to being part of it, both participating and watching the other shows.”

The concept behind her performance ‘And’  developed from a text message she sent to a friend. Dialogue runs through her solo performance, with questions and issues that most people wrangle with at some point in their lives.  

Charlotte explains: “It started out as a question, can we dance, and it developed from there.

“It’s complete self-therapy and has a long list of things touching on fragility, luck, happiness, sadness, real life, calling my mum, having a sister, having a boyfriend or not having a boyfriend, and not having a house.

“It’s about being 25 years old in 2019 and being a Scottish woman. No matter what age you are you still worry about little things or big things, silly or important. I think most people can relate to that.”

Charlotte Mclean. Photo by James Keats
Charlotte Mclean. Photo by James Keats

Charlotte performs ‘And’ as part of Artists’’ Mixed Bill on Saturday 19 October which also features ‘Sketches’ by Katie Armstrong, ‘A Fragile Geography: Places’ by Daniel Navarro Lorenzo and ‘A Falling Ballet’ by Rioisin O’Brien.

It’s one of 18 events at five different venues that make up the four-day Dancelive programme.

In one weekend, where else could you find ceilidh dancing meeting a Brazilian street festival vibe in ‘Looping: Scotland Overdub’ with Scottish Dance Theatre at The Anatomy Rooms, or an autographical performance by a former principal dancer of Scottish Ballet being staged at His Majesty’s Theatre?

Charlotte has toured Poland, Switzerland and Greece and spending much of her professional life in London or overseas means she cherishes the opportunity to return to her native Scotland.

It allows her the chance to take to the stage speaking fluently in her Scottish accent at her usual pace – without running the risk of being incomprehensible!

As well as performing in the Mixed Bill, Charlotte is looking forward to seeing the performances, particularly the youth showcase on Sunday, October 20 .

“I’ve been working with some of them teaching Higher dance, and they are really passionate about dance, so I see a lot of myself in them.

“The festival is all very different from talks to big performances and it’s a great chance for people to come and find out what contemporary dance is all about and enjoy some of the very best performers around.

This is the North-east’s 14th annual dance festival, showcasing work from local and national dance companies performing at venues in and around Aberdeen.

The festival is produced and managed by Citymoves Dance Agency who have participants who are babes in arms to dancers in their 90s. The festival is inclusive, with wheelchair dance and performances that celebrates mood and mental health as part of a diverse and thought-provoking bill, with events and workshops and culminating in a youth showcase featuring Aberdeen dance schools.

The festival is a partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts, with additional funding from Creative Scotland and Aberdeen City Council.