Aug 22 2022 | By More

★★★★☆   Bold and brave

Dance Base (Venue 22): Tue 16 – Sun 28 Aug 2022
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

And is a bold new autobiographical dance poem, performed and choreographed by Scottish contemporary dance artist Charlotte Mclean as part of the Made in Scotland showcase at Dance Base.

The piece weaves together Highland dance, contemporary dance, music and text as Mclean goes on a journey of self-discovery.

Charlotte Mclean in And. Pic: Amy Sinead Photography

Sounds of torrential rain flood the room as Mclean lies still on the floor wearing the traditional green Scottish kilt, familiar from Highland Dance. As the bagpipes begin, she rises, she performs, she lays herself bare and like the rain she shows strength and resilience.

Mclean has turned an unfiltered text she sent to a friend, into a fierce and empowering 45 minute long performance. Sections of the poem she recites appear to be taken directly from this text and detail her concerns about life, her worries as a young woman living in London and her immediate thoughts.

The poem uses repetition with subtle changes to reflect different stages of her life and Mclean’s evolving perspectives, attitudes, questions, and concerns. These changes, whether it be through the words or tone, clearly show her development as a woman through her twenties.


Mclean is a brilliant storyteller and it’s the honesty in the way she speaks and moves that is immediately gripping. Her ability as a dancer is incredibly strong, and it is clear she is a multi-talented individual as she charts her personal journey through her dancing, which in turn has heavily influenced her identity.

Her changing outlooks and personal discoveries are conveyed in each delicate movement, intricate shape and sequence and a clear progression is evident.

Charlotte Mclean in And . Pic: Amy Sinead Photography

The music which accompanies the piece helps to enhance different aspects of her growth, including the powerful song I Belong by Dara Pacis, which helps to assert her position in the world. Mclean also records some live vocals on stage which she then dances to, again showing her great versatility.

Impressively the combination of different disciplines works extremely well. She integrates them all smoothly with a consistent finesse and quality, meaning one aspect doesn’t outshine the other.

The standout element within this piece, though, is Mclean’s willingness to express her vulnerabilities which is incredibly empowering.


Lighting designer Emma Jones’ consideration of shadows is used to great effect. She creates some incredibly poignant images, in particularly the shadow of a lone highland dancer as Mclean performs a highland sword dance.

It is very important to be aware of the distressing themes and warnings going into this performance as some scenes are harrowing and certainly not for the faint hearted. It touches on some political elements as well as reproductive rights and miscarriage as well as bringing in current issues relating to laws around abortions.

Ultimately, though, this an incredibly hopeful piece of work that is performed to a very high standard. It highlights the strength of an individual which should in turn empower others.

Running time: 45 minutes (No interval)
Dance Base (Studio 3), 14-16 Grassmarket, EH1 2JU, (Venue 22)
Tuesday 16 – Sunday 28 August 2022
Daily (not Mon 22): 18:00
Tickets and details: Book here.

And on tour:

The Place, 17 Duke’s Road, London, WC1H 9PY
Saturday 10 September
Evening: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Facebook: @iamcharlottemclean
Instagram: @iamcharmclean

Charlotte Mclean in And. Pic: Amy Sinead Photography


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