A powerful contemporary dance rendition of the fantasy novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, thrilled the audience at the Manoel Theatre at the weekend.

The show was one of the first Moveo Dance Company is presenting this year as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations.

Choreographer and artistic director Dorian Mallia was intrigued by Patrick Suskind’s 1985 novel which explores the relationship between the sense of smell − our most primitive sense and one of the most powerful − and the emotional meaning scents may have.

The novel’s plot follows an 18th-century French orphan, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who is born with an exceptional sense of smell. He becomes a perfumer but later turns into a murderer when he meets a young girl with an exceptional natural scent.

Described as simultaneously morbid, disturbing and inspiring, the story has been adapted into a film in 2006, a TV series and inspired a number of musicians, including US grunge band Nirvana and French duo Air.

German metal band Rammstein also drew inspiration from the book as did controversial US artist Marilyn Manson, who credits the novel as one of his inspirations behind the title of his second album, Smell Like Children.

In an interview with The Sunday Circle, Mr Mallia said that the ambiguity and magic realism of the story made it an intriguing and fitting choice for Moveo’s 10th anniversary show.

“The writing in the book is so well-embellished and suggests scent as I had never thought of it before. I found it very interesting to delve into as a subject because of what the murderer is trying to create. I felt that I, too, wanted to create this ambiguous creature.”

Local fashion designer Ritienne Zammit gave the costumes a modern twist, while Albert Garcia was tasked with composing an original score.

Ten years ago, Moveo Dance Company started out with one show a year but nowadays presents about 40.

Previous notable shows include The Picture of Dorian Gray (2014), It-Tfajla ta l-Għonnella (2015), Carmen (2017) and El Tango (2018).

The group has also performed in various European countries, the US and India, among other places.

This year promises to be a busy one for the company.

Among other plans, it is set to perform in the Malta Arts Festival and will continue with its community projects. In summer, Moveo will be performing in Denmark and the Czech Republic.

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