Festival Dance FOUR QUARTERS Contemporary dance in shooter form ●●●●●
Tired after days of mediocre Fringe shows? Proceed directly to Zoo and ingest these four sharp little shots of contemporary dance performance. The magnetic Isobel Cohen, who curated the show, starts things off by wandering onstage in an incongruously saucy PVC corset, for a hilarious, articulate monologue on both the nature of contemporary dance and the grammatical (and other) errors of the boyfriend who bought her the corset. She then goes on to respond to herself with a lovely, sad piece of floorwork, smarting with disappointment.
Then things get darker. In ‘Where The Humans Eat’ a broken doll dancer’s limbs splay and tick, before she advances towards the audience like a vengeful ghost from a Japanese horror movie, while behind her a short film plays out scenes of spousal murder. ‘All Ends In Tears’ is a brutal, clever and exhilarating work, where childish ‘rough play’ turns into something frighteningly close to domestic abuse. Final piece, ‘I’ve been waiting . . .’ though choreographed fluidly, makes rather less of an impression, but the whole is still a vital taster course in intelligent, engaging dance. (Kirstin Innes) ■ The Zoo, 662 6892, until 23 Aug (not 17), 1.45pm, £8–£10.
MYRIAD Dancing inside the mind ●●●●●
MERCY MADONNA OF MALAWI African adoption musical ●●●●●
Like all the shows at The World this year, getting the Malawians to Edinburgh has been a huge undertaking. Joining a myriad of other performers, hailing from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Cuba and Brazil, the Africans inject a lively dose of their native culture into the Fringe, and we’re all the richer for it. A mix of serious debate and light-hearted fun, Mercy Madonna of Malawi
poses one central dilemma – should the eponymous pop star have been allowed to adopt two Malawian children, essentially circumnavigating the country’s laws? As the facts of Mercy James’ young life unfold, including the tragic death of her teenage mother, the two opposing sides state their case. Through live music, powerful vocals and traditional dance, they weigh up the argument – a better life for one of Malawi’s 1.5 million orphans, versus keeping a child immersed in the culture she was born in.
It’s a tough call for both the residents of Malawi and us, the audience. So when the large cast asks us to cast our vote at the end, by throwing our ticket into a bucket, no easy answer emerges – but at least we’re now armed with the facts, rather than tabloid speculation. (Kelly Apter) ■ The World @ St George’s West, 0776 171 6929, until 31 Aug, 3pm, £10–£12 (£5–£10).
when morning comes, you’re well aware that nobody, other than another drunk person, found your movement, meanderings and melodies remotely funny or entertaining.
Well, somewhere along the line, duo Martha & Arthur forgot to do that last bit – and decided instead to make a career out it. A Lot Of Nerve is an utterly bizarre mélange of reasonable dancing, poor vocals, insane costumes, lip-synching and entirely random text. There are no apparent links holding the material together, other than an overarching disregard for the audience.
Who is this for? And why aren’t Martha & Arthur using their dancing ability in a more accessible, crowd- pleasing way? A Lot Of Nerve? To charge for this, yes, I rather think they have. (Kelly Apter) ■ Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 17, 24), 10.50pm, £7.50–£8.50 (£6.50–£7.50).
SPECTRUM Late-night telly turns hip hop fantasia ●●●●●
The old BBC 2 test card – yes, that one, with the little girl and the clown – is a bit of a strange premise to build a whole hip hop show around, but London’s Avant Garde Dance has managed to make it work. One dancer plays the girl, the others just represent the colours that surround her: a terrifying forest of black bars, or a party of anthropomorphised primary colours.
a series of beautifully executed solos and duets, shifting between various states of mind. The distorted sound effects reinforcing the surreal, almost dream-like state the performers inhabit.
The movement quality retains a silk- like fluidity. Yet, while Lamaison and Hopkins’ elongated arabesques and airy pirouettes are of consistently high quality, Beer’s technique is notably weaker. The choreography consistently fails to acknowledge his male physique, thus neglecting to exhibit his full potential as a dancer.
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Ultimately, the limited movement Even given C Venue’s limited
vocabulary edges towards monotony, with cautious choreographic decisions impeding the emotional intensity that simmers throughout the show. Regardless of these limitations and despite losing a performer due to injury a week prior to opening, Collisions display much promise for a new company, with their exploration of the estranged mind. (Fiona Campbell) ■ The Zoo, 662 6892, until 31 Aug (not 18, 26), 1.45pm, £7.50 (£6.50).
A LOT OF NERVE Cabaret in a world of its own ●●●●● Picture the scene – you and your friends have had a bit too much to drink, you shimmy over to the stereo and turn your living room into a bespoke cabaret joint. Great fun, but
technical capacity, there are some really stunning visual effects. Some of the late night television video interludes are a bit intrusive and let the focus wander, but when the combination of projection and dance coheres, it’s really special. The soundtrack is mainly composed of static fuzz and looped muzak, and yet acts as an excellent, dynamic background for the dancers to react to. Performing whip-crack, perfectly synchronised breaks in time to a music with no apparent rhythm has got to be hard, and it’s testament to the skilled choreography and ensemble that the movements stay so slick. (Kirstin Innes) ■ C Chambers Street, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug (not 17), 4.05pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£4.50–£8.50).
Following last year’s successful debut, Interrupt, Collisions Dance is back with its new production, Myriad. Quirky and contemplative, it explores notions of selfhood in relation to modern day alienation, and the internalised worlds we so often find ourselves absorbed in.
The opening scene, performed by David Beer, Joanna Lamaison and Verity Hopkins, is upbeat, with the trio gleefully twisting and jiving together. The performance then fragments into
48 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 13–20 Aug 2009