Alice Bain looks askance at one representative of Festival dance.
The stalls were full of people ready for a good night out. Black Ballet Jazz sounded like a sure bet and people put their money on it without much persuasion. Excited anticipation took the mustiness out ofthe Playhouse atmosphere.
Then the let-down. The history ofblack dance in the programme which promised classics like the Cakewalk and crazies like the Strut and Shag was ploughed through by a much less than top class company. At the interval. five young women were amongst those who walked out. ‘l‘ve seen better at the disco.‘ said one.
Dance at this year‘s Festival has been given a raw deal. Granted. it is a less popular medium than theatre or opera. but the Festival should be offering the best. Black Ballet Jazz. through no fault of their own. were put on a stage too big for them to handle. Did anyone from the Festival see this company in action before booking? Chester Whitmore. artistic director of [3.13.]. and the only member who rose above the mediocrity. would have been better teamed up with Will Gaines. an original jazz hoofcr now in his sixties. who is appearing on the Fringe. This week the crowds will again be drawn by a name. But Rudolph Nurcyev will be watched for past brilliance and nostalgia. Nothing new. ls it possible that the dance/drama of the Emperors Warriors will make us cheer yet?
Earlier this year. Assembly Productions made a brave and vital contribution to dance in Scotland with ‘Focus on Dance'. a week ofexciting performances and workshops. The Festival has let us down with its tame offering. Are audience figures all that matter now‘.’ And when they walk out — at what price popularity? (Alice Bain)
ONE STEP BEYOND
The Kosh is a company most at home onthe edge. that precarious domain one step awayfrom the precipice— those delicate few inches from raw emotion. The playersteeteron the brink ofexposing ourmost frighteningfears. Emptiness. loneliness and loss are only one step away.
Because olthisthe Kosh isthe most human of companies. This danceplay is an exploration of a turbulentmotherand daughter relationship. but it is no dry academic study. Througha powerfulfusion of poetic language. sharp witand vigorous movement. they challenge ustolace ourdeepest feelings.
Less moving. butmore accessible than lastyear's Telling Tales. The Edge is an absorbing and vibrant productionthaf works best when dealing withthe motherand daughter‘s struggleto communicate. (Frank Fisher)
0 One Step Beyond. The Kosh. Theatre Workshop. Hamilton Place (venue 20) 226 5425. Until 29 Aug 8.30pm. £3 (£2.50).
FRIGHTENED OF NOTHING
The rusty moon and star candelabra hints at religion rightfrom the start. And sure enough Magda. the heroine of the piece. meets up with hernamesakethe first lady of Christianity. in the end.
But before the miracle. the crazy-mixed-up actress goesthrough months of fitful nights dreaming ofthe Titanic going under. of quacky consultations with
expensive shrink and of trying to shake off the big M. the guy who gother pregnant and is. ofcourse. a blackmailable VIP. Underlying all of these plots there isa radio-active warning. The glowing fish are very pretty. butdon‘t touch. Most particularly. don'teat. oryou may become a mutant.
Set 100 years afterthe greatship wentdown. the atmosphere Peta Lily creates single-handedly falls somewhere between “Blade Runner‘ and ‘The Maltese Falcon'. The script. which she wrote. jumps from cut-throat narrative to not-so-throwaway throw-aways. You are asked to read between the linesto catch the serious bits. ‘Even ilyou didn'twalk intherain afterChernobyl . . .the public don'twantthetruth.
Lily‘s skill as dancer. mime and acress cannot be argued with. She'stough stuff on stage. But in this piece. she hasbecome tangled up in the complexity ofthe material. The American accents blurand on occasion she seemed not quite in control otallher characters. The drive in the 800.000 miles-on-the-clock Sinclairwasawinnerbut the plotdidn‘tquite measure uptothe pace. (Alice Bain)
o Frightened ofNothing. Peta Lily. Theatre Workshop. 34 Hamilton Place. Until Sat 22 Aug. 2.10pm. £3.
BHARATHA NATYAM DANCERS
Fingers dipped in red flashed and curled throughout the performance ofthese two dancersfrom South India. Amongst other
feats of imagination which in Western culture comes closest to mime. they bend elegantly into the jaws of alligators and caressed gods. Feet wrapped in bells beattime with thethree excellent musicians. It is notsurprising that thistorm oftemple dance is still alive after2000 years. Forthose who have not seen it before the rhythms and patterns maybe unfamiliar. butthey are worth working at and relaxing info. And this group. with their blend of pure dance and stories of gypsies and Iovelorn princesses. make a beautiful introduction. Blessings atthe end will leave you with happy and humble thoughts. (Alice Bain)
o Bharalha Natyam Dancers. Marco‘s Leisure Centre. Grove Street (venue 98) Until Sat 22 Aug. 12.30pm. £3 (£2.50).
SUSAN RANKIN LIVE
Straightfrom 103 inthe shade New Yorkto 68 Scotland. Susan Rankin is gametotry anything. Mostly she‘s a singer. but in hertime she has been a waitress. a go-go dancer. teacherand clerk. Now. againstherdad's wishes she says. she just wantsto sing.
Hershowtakes onthat hectic ‘notquite sure whol am’ urban soul-seeker kind of life she has lived since leaving herhometown of Edmonton. Canada. forthe big city. Lyrics warn of bum-pinchers. heroin and hookers withthe odd dash of loneliness thrown in. It's awell-known story. The music leapfrogs in style from Kate Bush hairand high pitch to Bette Midler raunch. all accompanied by sub-Saturday Night Fever dancing.
Alive band is sadly missed. but the lady hasa big heart and a leotard of energy and if only her cabaret act warmed up a bit she would be good all- American entertainment. (Alice Bain)
0 Susan Rankin Live Marco's l.cisurc('cnlrc. (irm c Slrccl l \'cnuc US) 338 3 I 7‘). [hill 3‘) Aug, lltMlpm. Lililﬁll).
SPOKE THE HUB
In a long blue evening gown Anthea breathily introduced Arnold and Rita, keep-fit superstars. Butthe stuffing fell out of Arnold's leotard and the performance early on. As the pair buffed and puffed through their self-inflicted girations, it was hard to stiflethe yawns. The tape bumbled on with James Brown, the only uplift to the piece, cutting into the aerobic
spoof which wearied more than entertained.
Spoke the Rub. a company of three dancers. are visitors from New York. Their style of dance. forged by Elise Long. the lady with the long red hair. is relaxed but haphazard. Muddy mixtures of contemporary technique, mime and do-it-yourself take them from the banks of the Nile. to urban marraigeto breakfast a trois. Though entirely sincere, their performance lacks the sparkle and wit essential to a Fringe show starting at 11.30 in the morning. (A.B.)
0 Venue 82 Southside International. Nicolson Street, 667 7365 Until 29 Aug. 11.30am. £3(£2).
Munch strikes a solo dancer at the Gilded Balloon and at the Gallery of Modern Art 300 umbrellas take an unusual turn. In both performances dance and the visual arts meet headlong.
Firstthe brollies. Part of the Vigorous Imagination exhibition. painter Keith Maclntyre's set of paintings and assorted objects is based on the tales and traditions surrounding the Borders town of Moffat where he lived for some years. Joined by Rotating Dancersfrom Glasgow and Borders' musicians. Maclntyre whips up Scottish legend into a contemporary concoction of movement and visual intrigue. A moving least, it was begun at last year’s Festival. was shown at Glasgow's Mayfest and reaches its climaxthis August.
Now for Munch. That Norwegian artist who died in 1944 has providedthe inspiration for Avis and Pramada’s new work Vampire Madonna. Trained in London and Munich. Avis spins as the innocent in white. becomes the woman in red and eventually peels down to vamp black. With great control and elegance she dances to the deep voice of Pramada's cello which once sang with the Electric Light Orchestra. But her choreography moves from folktwirlingto flamenco sophistication without much change in dynamic or real emotion. Hertace remains too sweet to be the vampire woman. The concept and the abilities of both performers are made of quality stuff- the material lets them down.(A.B.)
o A Gala Celebration atthe Gallery of Modern Art. Until Sun 23 Aug. 6pm. £4 (2) Vampire Madonna atthe Gilded Ballon. Venue 38, Unitl Sat 29 Aug. 1pm. 3 (2.50)
The List 21 Aug — 3 Sept 27