A DANCE party inspired by Brazilian carnival and Scotland’s rave culture starts a tour of rural venues tonight.

Looping: Scotland Overdub is an “immersive performance party with a distinctly Scottish edge” which sees performers from Scottish Dance Theatre joining audience members on a collective dance floor.

Before this weekend’s shows in Findhorn and Banchory a team from Scottish Dance Theatre will lead free workshops designed to develop audience engagement with the piece.

However, attendance is not necessary to enjoy the show, which, like the workshops, are welcome to all, regardless of experience, ability, identity or status. Set to a live score by music producer Torben Lars Sylvest, Looping is an explicitly political piece celebrating individual freedom and “the collective right of revolution”.

The tour is a development of a piece which premiered in summer 2018 at Dundee Rep, where Scottish Dance Theatre (SDT) is based.

Fleur Darkin, then artistic director, commissioned Brazilian dance collective 7Oito to reimagine their hit show Looping: Bahia Overdub for Scotland.

A hit at 2016’s Panorama Festival in Rio, the piece was inspired by Brazilian carnival culture and the contradictory situation in the country where a hard right political class stands in opposition to a more liberal social culture.

Darkin, who has since left SDT to pursue other projects, also brought in playwright Kieran Hurley to write a text.

Looping has since been developed by Joan Cleville, SDT’s artistic director since March.

Cleville, who describes the piece as a work in progress, says the version performed at the Fringe emphasises elements of rave culture.

“In the context of the Fringe, the piece was perfect,” Cleville says. “The response was immediate and you could really feel the atmosphere in the room. It will be really brilliant to see the audience’s reaction on these dates as though we premiered it in 2018, we have not yet had a proper tour.”

Developing work commissioned and premiered by a predecessor might have been a daunting prospect for the new artistic director. But Barcelona-born Cleville, previously a member of SDT himself, says an attitude of collaboration made the process “very natural”.

“There has been this wonderful openness from all the dancers, the Brazilians, Kieran, Torben, everyone,” he says. “In my own practise, I am interested in the connections between storytelling and movement and sound, so when I was handed Kieran’s script – this beautiful clash of different texts – I loved that the first thing he had put on the cover, was that he wrote it in a spirit of collaboration.

“We can rip it, expand it, change it. I thought that was such a generous proposition and it allowed the dancers and me to really go that little bit deeper in our questioning and finding our relevance within it.”

Looping sees the nine dancers voice parts of Hurley’s text, perform moves to Sylvest’s score and encourage audience members to join in however much they wish.

Hurley’s text is defiantly political, calling for inclusion and connection in the face of division and disillusionment.

At one point there’s an extensive quote from Indian writer and political activist Arundhati Roy, while elsewhere Hurley skewers Scotland’s dual nature as an oppressed nation and a key part of the British Empire.

Explicit too is an emphasis on the positive role of the arts and the “generations before who struck for welfarism and partied in spite of authority”.

That echoes the movement against the Criminal Justice Act, a Major-era set of laws which specifically targeted gatherings featuring music characterised by “repetitive beats”.

SCOTLAND’S early 1990s rave scene is the setting for Beats, Brian Welsh’s recent film based on Hurley’s coming-of-age hit play.

Rave and club culture, perhaps even more so than the traditional ceilidh, brings together potentially very different people for a collective experience of dancing and music.

For a few hours at least, we learn to share and enjoy a space together.

“While in some ways the equivalent of the Brazilian carnival in Scotland is the ceilidh, I made the case that in terms of the actual lived culture of many people it is the rave,” says Hurley, who describes his text as “part of a conversation” with the original Brazilian work.

“Not everyone in Scotland would recognise ceilidh in its Highland Gaelic form as part of their experience. Rave culture is also about community and communality and shared experience through music – that was my take, at least.”

The award-winning playwright also guided the team to related aspects of modern Scottish culture such as Jimmy Reid’s famous electoral address and the music of Celtic fusion pioneer Martyn Bennett.

In 1998’s Bothy Culture, the musician melded the traditional party culture of Highland bothies with world music and the rhythm and vitality of Scotland’s rave scene.

Bennett, who died in 2005 aged 33, noted in the album’s sleeve notes the similarity of the bothy gathering to the city nightclub and warehouse party.

“Although the music and songs that have been played in them are totally contrasting,” Bennett wrote, “it is this same sense of excitement that can transform four bare walls into a chamber of sheer sensual delight.”

“I thought that sense of togetherness was pretty fundamental to what they were trying to do,” says Hurley of SDT. “And how Martyn Bennett puts it, it’s such a beautiful evocation of how the ceilidh and the rave – and the carnival – are the same space in different ways.”

Writing about such subjects, discussing them, is not the same as lived experience – what Cleville’s piece is intended to offer.

“Actually doing something, feeling it in your body, is very powerful,” Cleville says.

Throughout Looping, the dancers do not give specific instructions. All that is transmitted to the audience is through movement, eye contact or gesture.

People can chose to spend the entire time on the margins, dancing while seated, or doing nothing at all.

“It’s essential people feel they a genuine choice,” says Cleville. “This is not about telling people what to do or think. We’re not trying to indoctrinate people but we’re not playing down the politics.

“There is a lot of fear around the world just now and this is meant to be a reminder that through the body, through dance, we can side-step all those narratives and connect in an immediate, direct way.”

Tonight, Universal Hall, Findhorn, 8pm, £8 to £10. universalhall.co.uk; tomorrow, The Barn, Banchory; 6.30pm, free, ticketed. Tel 01330 825 431. www.thebarnarts.co.uk; September 8, Galashiels Volunteer Hall, 7pm, £6.50 to £12.50. www.eventbrite.co.uk; Sep 13, Ardrishaig Village Hall; October 17, Anatomy Rooms, Aberdeen; Oct 25 and 16, Tramway, Glasgow, 8.30pm, £12, £5 concs. Tel: 0845 330 3501. www.tramway.org www.scottishdancetheatre.com