DANGE IN THE WINGS
Alice Bain introduces the Dance Festival.
The number ofdance performances on the fringe may have increased by six. from 19 last year to 25 this. but there is a conspicuous lack of well-known professional contemporary companies in the list. The Kosh returns. Spoke the Hub make the trip from New York. Peta Lily bridges into theatre and that's about it. Where are the experimental groups who will appear in London‘s next autumn Dance Umbrella? Where are the Scottish companies filling the void left by Basic Space? Scottish Dance Theatre pulled out of their Theatre Workshop slot through lack of funds and we are left with a couple of handfuls of youthful companies. braving the expense. Some. like Dancers Anonymous who visit the Fringe for the l5th time with a new batch of hopefuls have built up a faithful following. others will be looking to make a name. They. as well as audiences. would benefit from a more experienced visitation — dance with a stronger profile.
And what about the Official Festival? The dancing days when artists like Merce Cunningham and Michael Clark popped their toes into Edinburgh seem frustratingly distant. Cunningham has just finished a successful two-week run in London. The Festival would have dove-tailed perfectly. Michael Clark was hoping to make the trip (and willing) but it never came off. Getting the right venue and costs might weigh in as drawbacks - finding full-houses for those names certainly do not.
Throughout the rest of the year Scotland has become a place where community dance projects and Scottish Ballet thrive but where the excitement of high quality contemporary or experimental dance is rarely experienced. What a pity the Festival did not relieve those barren eleven months.
Black Ballet Jazz puts zipp into the official programme. Why they have it in their theatre section is anyone‘s guess. but this year the ()fficial Festival has concentrated on its Russian theme. The .N'ational Ballet of Finland perform the Nutcracker with score by Tschaikovsky and choreography by the Director of the Bolshoi Ballet. Yuri Grigorovich. Watching a children‘s Christmas story in August will be like eating strawberries in December — never as sweet.
The Siverko Folk Dancers from the Soviet North. dance in the peasant tradition of Russia.
Rudolph Nureyev. himselfa symbol of Russian excellence. is still dancing after all these years. This Festival he guests with the Ballet Theatre Francais (1e Nancy in a programme dedicated to the work of Diaghilev and his Ballet Russes. Most exciting will be to see life in the original designs and costumes by Leon Bakst whose work is also on static show at the Fine Art Society (see Art Listings).
Finally. the Emperors Warriors return to Edinburgh. The visit of the restored terracotta men. unearthed in Xian in 1974 and part of a 2000 year old Chinese burial chamber. drew queues of the curious to Edinburgh‘s City Art Centre two years ago. Will a dance/drama inspired by the Qin Dynasty attract similar interest? Direct from the People‘s Republic. and a collaboration between Edinburgh and Xian. this is an unknown quantity with the mystique of2000 years to recommend it. Alice Bain
JAPAN AND INDIA DANCE ON THE FRINGE
Two of Edinburgh‘s most interesting visiting dance companiesthis yearare fromthe east. From Japan come Azuma Ryu Senkokai a group of six with their roots in the traditions of theircountry.
And from Southern India a female duo perform the classical technique Bharata Natyam to tell the tales of thetemples.
Look out for reviews in the next issue ofthe List.
0 India. Marco‘s. Grove Street (venue 98)Wed 12—Fri14and Wed 19—Sat 22 Aug at 12.30pm. £3 (£2.50) 0 Japan. Marco's (as above) Sun 23—Sat 29 Aug at8.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50)
The Kosh are one of Britain's more insistently inventive alternative dance companies. Now in their
; fifth year, their aim isto
present full-length dance-plays with a narrative structure and choreography that springs from emotion and character. Their latest. hour-long show THE EDGE takesthem evenfurther alongtheir chosen path than did last year's ‘Telling
; Tales'.Unlike previous.
improvisationally developed Kosh outings. it marks theirfirst collaboration with a playwright.
David Pownall. authorof ‘The Master Class‘. has written a deceptively simpletext about a mother and daughter who meet on a clifftop. What happensto them should come as something ola shock.
Pownall's writing has the musicality of poetry. plus the pull of a good yarn. For Merwitzer. The Kosh's artistic director. the challenge was to usethe writing to explore the interface between dance and acting. He and David Pownall came to an agreement about not treading on each other's patches: Merwitzer left the script to Pownall. Pownall steered clear of rehearsals.
‘Whala dancer goes through and what motivates an actor are very different processes.‘ says Merwitzer. ‘lt‘s not easy dealing with two such ditterentforms.‘ No doubt it helpsthat Merwitzer and Pownall know infimatelythe two women cast in the show. The daughter is played by the phenomenallytalenfed Kosh regular Sian Williams. who also devisedthe choreography with Johnny
Hutch. She and Merwitzer live together. The American-born actress
Mary Ellen Ray. a long-time UK resident and Pownall‘s wife. is the mother. ‘I do all the speaking in the show.‘ explains Ray. ‘Sian does most ofthe dancing.
lt'sthe union between verbal and body language that the Kosh are experimenting with now. (Denis O‘Toole)
o The Edge. The Kosh. Theatre Workshop. 34 Hamilton Place (venue 20). 10—20 Aug (notSuns). 8.30pm. £3 (£2.50)Tickets: 226 5425 [Fr]
Rene. founder of Action Syndicate. sings with a band and illustrates books between engagements. She’s been on the Fringe with Richard Strange before. but this is thefirst visit with her own company. Prawns are in the Deep-Freeze Awaiting Treatment, the title of her latest piece rings zany and sure enough she confirms that ‘it is not typical dance’. There‘s singing. a specially-composed score for organ and a part foran answer-machine. All this makes up the portrait olan old lady. a friend ofRene’s. When she and the two othermembers ofher company can get together (one lives in Dublin and dances classical ballet there) they take theirwork to clubs and dance venues where possible. But getting a space for dance/theatre is not as easy here as it is in other European countries. ‘Audiences here are less receptive. In somewhere like Holland this kind of piece can be performed in different kinds of venues. It doesn't have to fit squarely into dance.‘ Will Edinburgh prove her wrong? (Alice Rain) 0 Action Sydicate. Chaplaincy Centre. Bristo Square (venue 23) Mon 10-Sat 15Aug. 4.30pm (not 4pm as published elsewhere) £3 (£2).
THUNDERBIHDS ARE G0
Gavin Robertson isthe original six-sided man. He writes, designs. performs and administralesthe two-man company. Mime Theatre Projects and still manages to spend part of the year studying new theatre techniques like Bouffon which he incorporates in his performance.
What happened to the straightforward magic of hands tranforrnlng space into invisible chairs and buckets of believable tears. This duo. have gonelhmtIIIh the sound barrier and are not afraid to bang and hiss and even string a few words together.
One of the few touring mime companies in Britain. M.T.P. wasiormed in 1984 and has two projects to its name. THUNDERBIRDS (which was made in Edinburgh that year) spoofs the cult cartoon and hasthe mime humour so accessible to all ages. SIX-SIDED MAN. ‘a reaction to that cartoonesque‘ creates a surreal portraitwith a serious edge. Both come to the Festival for the first time this yeatfollowing extensive tours oithe country.
Two shows in three years seem few. But Robertson’s kind of mime changes and develops on the road. ‘We're always looking for better ways to deal with the narrative.‘ Crash. bang. wallop you can hear a mime a mile away. (Alice Bain)
FHIGHTENED 0F NOTHING
Peta Lily defies pigeonholing. Are her performances nearest to mime. dance orlheatre? ‘More and more I see myself as neither one thing or another.‘ the 31 year-old soloist avows.
Peta‘s track record renders such limiting categorizations immaterial. As part of Three Women Mime (formed in 1979). she won a 1981 Fringe First. The following year she took the plunge into solo work. The result was a sometimes comic. always evocative look at her own Australian girlhood. played in tandem with a seductive but sobering study of a footbound Oriental showgirl. ln 1985‘s ‘Whole Parts‘. Peta combined a very dancey. mercurial portrait of Woman through the ages with a hilarious cabaret turn as a garrulous Edith Piaf imitator on an end-of-the-world tour.
This year Peta's back in FRIGHTENED OF NOTHING. Thlsfull-length collaboration with director Rex 00er features contributions from designer. musician. choreographer and lighting person. But it‘s Peta‘s show all the way. She concocted
the jigsaw-like script herself. a post-Chernobyl satire that places nuclear-age anxiety in the context of sell-consciously hard-boiled. Chandleresque detective fiction.
‘I think I've reached a new threshold as a performer.‘ she says. ‘Not just inthe variety of challenges within this piece. lleel I‘ve gota new confidence. I‘m using pantomime skills with a lot olwords to create ' environments and make the audience see things.‘
While Peta hopes audiences will thoroughly enjoy her thicktheatrical stew. she also wanlsthem to digest its crucial underpinnings. ‘When they're laughing. you can make people think in a way they don't always do if they’re taking things seriously. (Denis O‘Toole) o Frightened of Nothing. Peta Lily. Theatre Workshop. 34 Hamilton Place. 10—22 Aug (notSuns) 2.10pm. £3 (£2.50) Tickets 226 5425 [Fr]
TAKING MIME OUT OF THE TELEPHONE BOX
Liverpool‘s spirited Loudmouth Mime Theatre Company are the latest in a line of performers whose aim is to smash out ofthe self-indulgent confines of traditional mime. Director Wendy Harris‘s idea of mime has nothing to do with locked telephone boxes. dog walking and endless teeth brushing. The company‘s two shows alternating in the late afternoon slot at Walpole Hall show an eclectic breadth of vision which is sure to convert more than a few people to a life of mime.
Like Nickelodeon‘s Assembly Rooms success of lastyear, Loudmouth’s CONFETTI AND CASTANETS is a keenly observant and wittin inventive love story which traces the heady romance of two of life‘s misfits from dating agency to honeymoon. Jane Beardsworth and Russ Lane turn in hilarious yet sensitive performances with an adaptability and agility that tricks you into believing there are scores more than just the two of them. Expect to be similarly deceived by their new galactic satire and companion piece. OUTER SlGHTl. (Frank Fisher)
0 Confetti and Castanets. 10, 12. 14. 17. 19. 21 Aug 4.15pm. 0 Outer Sightl. 11. 13. 15. 18. 20. 22Aug 4.15pm. Loudmouth Mime. Walpole Hall. Chester Street (venue 18) 226 3358.
36 The List 7 — 20 August