ls dance moving out ofthe Festival‘.’ Alice Bain reports.
There may be dancing in the streets or even after hours. but there is certainly little dance in the theatres of this year‘s Edinburgh Festival. Were it not for Michael Clark the temptation might even have been to pack up the dance page altogether and stay at home. Fortunately. Michael Clark is around to shake his booty and his body — the ()fficial Festival is saved. ‘1 Am Curious. ()range‘. an original piece of choreography by this cheeky Aberdonian with a Cockney drawl. started at the William ofOrange tercentenary and ended with a football match
get along there fast.
LINDY HOPPING ATTHE MOULIN ROUGE
No doubt about it. the London-based .living Lindy Hoppers will indeed be hopping from venue to venue —- during this year‘s Festival. Company manager Terry .‘vlonaghan has booked the racially and sexually mixed troupe ofeight fleet-footed dancers into no fewer than three series ofgigs: a one-offas partof the main festival‘s I‘sher Hall anniversary concert; a handful of hot nights in the Jazz Festival; and on the fringe. a fizzy re-creation of American Harlem-style jazz dance in
between Celtic and Rangers. Ifit‘s not already sold out at the King‘s ( 15—20 Aug at 7.30pm) then
Much more official offerings come in a Japanese package. The Matsuyama Ballet Company. last in London in 1985. brings Giselle and their most experienced prima ballerina Yoko Marishita. to dance the lead role (23. 26. 27 Aug at 7.30pm. 27 Aug at 2.30pm). But the company
Paris circa the 1930s. Since 1984 the JLl l has dedicated itself to the preservation and revivification of the Lindy l lop. Charleston and numerous other American social dances of the Big Band Swing era. most derived from black popular culture. For their Parisian sets at the Gilded Balloon they‘ve corralled a band. a singer and some new dance routines. courtesy of theirown research and their studies with 74 year-old New York Cotton Club veteran Frank Manning earlier this year. Monaghan anticipates a (iallic atmosphere that is ‘boisterous, lively and not too polished. We‘ll be
also bring to Edinburgh the first full-length ballet Japanese-style with samurai. Buddhist priests. parasols and kimonos. Sounds colourful. It would have been perhaps timely for the Festival to have brought by way of contrast one ofJapan‘s leading exponents of the increasingly popular Butoh dance. that strange combination of the highly contemporary with the classically
However. the final stage of the Festival‘s dance programme is filled by Aterballetto. a 10 year old Italian company who blend classical with contemporary in a programme of four ballets. With Picasso‘s original designs and Satie‘s music. the leader ofthat group of four. Parade. is something to look forward to.
The fringe this year has a tiny list ofvisiting dance companies which seems to shrink every time you look at it. Most are unknowns and young. and with one or two exceptions. small and middle-scale companies based in England have opted to stay away. Lack ofsuitable space? Competition for audience? Too few others to share a professional platform? Too little money for dance? Why is dance not coming to the Fringe? Were there a dance centre which could corale them altogether. I suspect things might be a little different. In the meantime. Theatre Workshop is standing in with some of the best dance/movement theatre on the fringe this year— David Glass (see panel). Peta Lily and The Kosh.
rabble rousers in a little cafe setting.‘
While he admits. ‘I can‘t claim this is a serious bit of social research.‘ historical dance detective Monaghan has uncovered some interesting links between Harlem and France between the wars: a) There was a time when blacks weren't allowed to enlist in the American army. he says. so they fought for the French instead. b) The 369th Harlem llellcats were a famous regiment whose band — led by a fellow ironically named Jim Europe - was ‘the first jazz band ever to hit Iiurope.‘ c) After the First World War. quite a few soldiers returned to France. A Lindy Hop connection comes via Sergeant Herbert White.
founder of Whitie‘s Lindv Hoppers. a group that toured Europe in 1937 and played the Moulin Rouge. Anyone who steps into the Balloon with an itch to dance has a chance of learning the ultimate jazz step. the shim-sham. or something else. ‘Passingit on.‘ Monaghan philosophises. ‘We think that‘s what it‘s all about.‘ (Donald Hutera) I Lindy Hopping atthe Moulin Rouge The living Lindy I Toppers. (iilded Balloon'l‘heatre. 12—20 Aug. 28aug~3 Sept at 5.30pm. £3.50(£3)
REFLECTIONS 0N MIME
According to Fringe veteran David Glass.
mime extraordinaire. ‘()ne of the positive things about being a soloist is. you‘ve always got your cast around to work on the show.‘ In Glass'scase. make that shows. This year he is generously presenting two separate productions on a staggered schedule.
in Britain and abroad. Indeed. he spends almost halfhis life touring. For him. mime — the imitation of life primarily through movement — is the cornerstone of all theatre. requiring an artistryequal to that of. say. a concert violinist or prima ballerina. Although he is one of the rare breed able to make a living at it. he recognises the general British audience's barriers against new mime— neither fish (ie theatre) nor fowl (ie dance) nature. ‘Most people are interested in their minds.‘ he laments. ‘and awkward and embarrassed about their bodies. To them you have to justify moving about the stage as being relevant.‘
Still. Glass speaks of performing with obvious pleasure. ‘lt‘s like kids playing hide and seek. The performer and audience both pretend the audience isn‘t there watchingthc performer. It's the greatest game there is.‘ (Donald Hutera) I Dinosaur David Glass Mime Theatre. Theatre Workshop. 220.127.116.11. 24—26. 30. 31 Aug and 3 Sept. 2.30pm (£3 (£2.50). I Glassworks (as above) 18.104.22.168.27.29Aug;
land 2 Sept. 2.30pm £3 (£2.50)
AKASHA AND COMPANY
l was disarmed when dancer Oliver Ramsey. speaking long-distance. said this Chicago-based troupe is making its Fringe debut ‘for the fun of it. and the exposure. We like the idea of doing a show in one community for a period oftime. It‘s difficult to do that in America because of the cost.‘ Very American. that. So was his friendly. straightforward account of what the company is all about.
Akasha is Sanskrit for ‘spirit leaping forth‘. They‘ve been around for nine years and. according to five-year veteran Ramsey. are ‘much more interested in entertainment than in being abstruse and abstract. "The notices they‘ve gotten on their home turf are encouraging. peppered with words like exhilarating. zest. enthusiasm. fast. showy. zing. precision. energy and sparkle. Not bad. ch?
None of the company 's five dancers. including artistic director Laura Wade. choreograph. but their repertory is all original. ‘There are a lot of sylphides and Swan Lakes around.‘ Ramsey explains. ‘Wc try to hone in on the contemporary area. in a wide range of styles. What we do is very clear. theatrically. And much of the music we use is commissioned.‘
Name-dropping-wise. their Edinburgh programme is topped by Vastus Sylva (that‘s ‘great forest‘ in Latin). choreographed by Austin llartel ofthe internationally famous Philobolus Dance Theatre. former Festival award-winners. His piece takes a fanciful. comic slant on environmental concerns. A Beastie Piece was fashioned by a dancer from Chicago‘s immensely popular. jazzy Hubbard Street Dance Company to the music of raspy-voiced Tom Waits. Ramsey essays a humorous solo about an overworked. sometimes forgetful Divine Being. There‘s a jitterbugging pas de deux. a dance in a lyrical classical-modern vein and. as a finale. a full-ensemble crowd-pleaser that jockeys solos with group work.
These visitors from across the Big Pond sound like they deserve to be checked out. (Donald
I Akasha and Company Chaplaincy Centre. 15—20 Aug. 29 Aug—3 Sept at 4pm; 22—27 Aug atopm. £3 (£2).
NOT THE BALLET BAMBERT
Student dance groups are particularly unknown quantities. Their creative tone is often more enthusiastic than artful. simply because aspiration tends to outstrip experience and technique. It‘s foolish and unfair to go expecting world-class dancers and fabulously finished choreography. better to scale down your sights. You might end up making at least a few valuable discoveries (or rediscoveries) about the arts of performance. presentation and youth. In this way. student shows are as instructive for audiences as for those on stage.
The new twelve-member Not The Ballet Rambert (NBR) troupe. complsed of three men and nine women. has its world premiere on this year's Fringe. As the not very original but pointed company name indicates. members are culled from London‘s reputable Rambert School. The dancers‘ average age range is 18 to 22. A few just graduated this summer. Their full training in classical and contemporary styles has been supplemented by a practical emphasis on performance.
It‘s important to note that NBR is an independently-financed alternative to the Rambert School‘s pre-existing performance group. Proudly and perhaps a bit defiantly. they‘ve managed to get to Edinburgh without the school‘s assistance. if not quite under theirown steam (Lady Sainsbury has been a helpful ally).
Although the Edinburgh bill features standard classical solos (Sleeping Beauty. Giselle). the majority of
pieces are originals generated from within NBR's ranks.
The most serious and promising work comes from Marishka van Loon, whose quartet for four women on point. A Carol For Russia‘s Children. makes eloquent use ofan Eric Satie score. (Donald Hutera)
I Not The Ballet Rambert Chaplaincy Centre. 15—27 Aug. 2.20pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
46 The List 12— 18 August 1988