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FESTIVAL DANCE | Reviews
ÉOWYN EMERALD & DANCERS Choreographer presents emotionally charged dance gems ●●●●●
Trinary, the first segment in Éowyn Emerald’s seven-piece dance programme, is full of tiny revelations. Three dancers start out in boiler suits, wiggling to techno pulses then sprawling into hip hop formations and sharp angles. But before long, one of the trio is kidnapped, decked in a red hat, and stripped of her boiler suit. What emerges is an elfin ice-skater, slowly curling in graceful turns. More of these smurf-like creatures join her, but keep your eye on their costumes as – through magic lighting – their colours change. Other metamorphoses take place before the piece is out, from a glowing ball appearing to the dynamic subtly shifting as partners swap.
There are greater transformations at play too, developing as the show progresses. Duets make up the middle section, and see a pattern of relationship shifts. Emerald is bewitching as she struggles to connect with Josh Murry in blurred. In spite of his tender support, her pain is palpable through long craving arcs, whiplash arms, and her reluctance to look at him.
This is counterpointed by Balloon, a harmonious follow-up of
playful mirroring games between Holly Shaw and Joel Walker, before the true couples of our quartet emerge: two same-sex pairings, the women simmering in muscular, electric duet Mine/ Ours, the men weightless and graceful to elegiac string music in aka: how many more. By the time the whole ensemble reconnects, it’s as if a layer of skin has been stripped from them. The quirky, inquisitive motion of the opening is replaced by open-souled expression, rich in stretching, yearning curves.
Emerald has become a buzz name on the Fringe dance scene since her last visit, and from this it’s clear why. (Lucy Ribchester) ■ Greenside at Royal Terrace, 557 2124, until 27 Aug (not 21), 1.50pm, £10 (£8).
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R O Y C A M P B E L L - M O O R E
CLOSER BY CIRCA An infectiously fun, and funny, show ●●●●●
POP-UP DUETS High quality dance brings museum to life ●●●●● SCARY SHIT Bizarre exploration of the fears women face ●●●●●
Circa consistently shine bright as one of the best circus acts around. They’ve had three consecutive years of great shows at the Fringe – Wunderkammer, Beyond and 2015’s Close Up – and Closer is, yet again, wonderful stuff from the remarkable Aussie company. The five performers here are all dressed in black,
with a chair each for props on an otherwise bare stage. It seems like a sober start, but the grins on their faces already tell us this is going to be an infectiously fun hour. It begins with a spellbinding rope routine that instantly has the audience in awe, and that rapture builds with every sequence. When a hula hoop comes out you fear Closer has
strayed into the staid, but the segment builds up gloriously until the performer’s wearing a stack of them like jingling bangles across her body. Yes, it’s packed with astounding feats and
breathtaking acrobatics. But what makes Closer truly special is its sense of camaraderie. That these wonderful performers can move with such fluid precision is one thing. But to laugh while doing it? That’s magic. (Yasmin Sulaiman) ■ Underbelly George Square, 0844 545 8252, until 29 Aug (not 23), 6.55pm, £17.50–£18.50 (£16.50–£17.50).
58 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
Edinburgh-based choreographer Janis Claxton wanted to ‘bring high-quality dance to public places for unsuspecting audiences’. So POP-UP Duets is a free performance, staged in the grand surrounds of the National Museum of Scotland, adapted to gel with the hard marble and sandstone of the walls and floor, and work around the busy crowds moving through its Grand Gallery. Nine duets take place, beginning in the Hawthornden Gallery and moving, with their mobile crowd in tow, next door into the main building.
Four dancers do a beautiful job of shifting gender roles, moving between driver, passenger and co-pilot in a series of tender, combative, flirtatious and energetic vignettes. Dressed in plain clothes, intertwining limbs with athletic grace, they blend in with the audience, who behave differently from the usual seated crowd, angling smartphones at the dancers, shifting around to get different views from staircases and letting babies wander towards the dancers. The non-heteronormative role play is especially good, with the girls lifting and dipping the boys, supporting and twisting around each other in an unmacho blur. (Claire Sawers) ■ National Museum of Scotland, until 28 Aug (not 22 & 23), 3.30pm, free.
There are some who will feel on entering the theatre that this show has already lived up to its title. A huge pink fluffy heart is pinned to the back wall of the stage, hairy toys and lurid polythene abound, and on a plastic-covered couch Rhiannon Faith sits breathing through a pink and silver oxygen mask pumped by Maddy Morgan, like some daytime disco version of Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. The reason for the fluffery – both comforting
and menacing – soon becomes clear as Faith and Morgan begin by detailing their motivation for creating the show: a therapeutic experiment in facing their fears. Some of these anxieties will be toothless, and responded to with appropriate silliness, like the imaginary lion attacking Faith’s right breast (the larger one), or the telephone that once signalled her being dumped. But there is a bomb dropped about three quarters of the way in, which makes clear the difference between neurotic phobia and real fear.
This show won’t be for everyone, and the wackiness feels a little forced at times, but for all its buffoonery, brash provocative feminism and fey surrealism, there is an honest heart to this scary shit. (Lucy Ribchester) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug (not 22), 1.45pm, £7.50–£10 (£6.50–£9).