The superlatives roll out on the dance pages of the Mayfest programme. There‘s the ‘extraordinary' Pauline Daniels from the Netherlands. the ‘masterly. exhilerating‘ Stephen Petronio Company from New York. the ‘undeniably charming‘ Philippe Decouﬂe and the ‘mysterious. intensely beautiful‘ Brigitte Farges. both French. Though past Mayfests have come up with isolated incidents ofoutstanding movement. most notably the introduction of the unusual Japanese Buto form to Glasgow. it has never before presented such a large-scale. self-contained programme ofdance. Superlatives are indeed. in order.
In charge of the organisation of this ten-company fiesta. is Sarah Hill. previously of the annual London contemporary dance festival Dance Umbrella. and most recently. Focus on Dance. a Scottish festival based last year at the RSAMD in Glasgow. With Focus a mute subject in this year‘s future programme ofevents. is the increased Mayfest activity perhaps a stand-in or even take-over? Sarah Hill quite adamantly says no. ‘The two are entirely different. It is important for Mayfest to have a serious dance element in its own right if it is to attract top companies. It should take all art forms seriously.‘ As a separate issue. Focus on Dance is indeed dormant. but Sarah Hill considers it likely that it will return in a revised version. perhaps under a different name.
It is the case that apart from the three
‘Ihe Cholmondleys (9. 10 May)
swimine rs competing fora medal. Throughout this episodic show. Anderson reveals an unexpectedly epic side to her trademark quirky. miniaturist talent. She‘s drawn much of her inspiration from revolutionary posters in which bodies move in ‘big diagonals. stylised and ﬂat. the arms up an out. It‘s all about linesand space'. she says. ‘and not at all the inward concerns I normally like to think
The (‘holmondelays and The Featherstonehaughs. two of Britain's most oddly-named dance companies. join forces in Flag. the biggest. clever exploration of the cliches and patterns of nationalism. from the secretive wit envinced by a pack of bookish Maoists to the nervous energy of
Petronio Company (14-16 May)
home-grown elements of Hill‘s programme. most of the companies are relatively unknown outside the very small circle ofcontemporary dance devotees in Scotland. Hill recognises the risks involved. but is confident that the superlatives in the Mayfest brochure will match the dancing to come.
Wooing companies like Le Ballet du Fargistan and Siobhan Davies (Hill says that Mayfest is now known and Glasgow is recognised as an tip-coming (‘ity of(‘ulture by many companies) is admirable enough but Hill is particularly pleased to have three British premieres and a world premiere. The world premiere was sheer luck. The Stephen Petronio Company. who had just
managed to squeeze their Glasgow date into a European tour (they will not be appearing in London!) announced that a new piece would be ready in time for Mayfest. Close Your Eyes and Think ofEngIand 10. was such a last minute confirmation that it didn't make the official programme.
While Stephen Petronio ( I4. 16 May) is the undoubted catch. his presence certainly does not cast a shadow over the rest of Mayfest dance. The pure and supremely sensitive qualities of Siobhan Davies' choreography are enacted in her new pieces Wyoming and White Man Sleeps. ( 19. 20 May) both made after a trip to America and her departure from London Contemporary Dance. Philippe Decoufle (8 May) by contrast takes his circus style into the dance ring with bounding wit. The intensely physical Paulene Daniels (5.6 May) collaborates with American cellist Frances-Marie Uitti while the London-based (‘holmondeley's and Featherstonehaughs (both names to be reckoned with) join up with the jazz group the Pointy Birds (9. It) May) to chew over issues of national cliche.
Brigitte Farges ( It) May) provides an element ofcool. detached beauty wrapped in stunning costume. Butoh is back on a small scale with individual artists. one Japanese. Masaki lwana (2.3 May) and one Scottish-based. Lindsay John‘s masterful understanding of Butoh makes him one of the most exciting choreographers in Scotland. Also from home is A Wee Home Front Home. performed by Frank McConnell and Michael Marra. a rerun from Mayfest ‘88 while Dundee Rep Dance Company take the community dance slot. Perhaps the only disappointment in this year‘s Mayfest dance is that there is no new Scottish work on view. but that situation could well change as dancers from abroad put Scotland on their touring map.
She and eight other dancers go through her rigorously-timed. highly gestural routines with plenty ol'spirit. Hag could benefit from a tighter structure and more focus. But the movement is div crse and funny . and superbly augmented by both live and pre-recorded music. Flawed btit vital. Hag is required viewing for anyone interested in new directions for contemporary dance theatre. (Donald llutcra) Hag is a! the Robert Anderson 'I‘ltealref‘rom ‘)~ 10 May. Full details in Listings net I issue.
_ BALLET ou
Exotic. erotic. accentrie. eclectic...all apply tothe epony mousdance-thcatu of French choreographer Brigitte I-‘arges. linigmus. .Iliniatures and Other Visions is the name of her evening-length piccc.crcated in Collaboration with a handful of dancers. a designer and a musician. The dancing is not academic; the term ballet is used only to indicate a performance. Although
shifting series of mov ing tableaux that speak for themselves in a tantalisingly alien tongue. The result w on't appeal to all tastes. but it's highly recommended as somethingtruly different and frequently enthralling. (Donald IIutera)
[.e Ballet (Iii I’urgisian is a! Allie/tell l‘healn’ (in I“ May.
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Ballet du Fargistan (10 May) Photo: Bridget Bordes
I‘arges dev iscs beautiful steps. she is equally interested in the totaI theatrical impact
conv eyed by her use of space. light sound and stage mechanics. The show . a discreet. contemplative w it and a certain je ne saisquoi mystery. ‘We don‘t know w here we go'. she say s ‘but we try something not socvident. w here
every thing is possible‘. To achieve this. she has
distilled a battery of inﬂuences both kinetic and visual into something all her ow n. Sometimes she treats her dancers sculpturally . so that parts
of their bodies are encased
in black frames which leave only a limb or halfa head visible. If there is. as she says. 'a story inside the work. about time and people w ho are free'. she says not tipping her hand about what it is. Instead she organises a slowly
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The List 21 April—4 May 198‘) 31