FEATURE FESTIVAL THEATRE
_ Strictly more room
The Festival Theatre may well make its greatest impact through its dance programme. Beatrice Colin reports on the proposals for a National Dance House.
Major dance companies have rarely had the chance to stage work on an epic scale in Scotland. The facilities needed by the international classical companies have not been available. And. even though Glasgow features many innovative performances in Tramway‘s programme as well as hosting New Moves. Britain's biggest contemporary dance festival. the fact that some companies choose to work in conﬁned spaces (often literally bouncing offthe walls) has meant that contemporary dance is too often overlooked by a mainstream audience.
A new chapter is. however. about to open with the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Over the next six months many major established companies and some of the most innovative. experimental and accomplished choreographers will be bringing productions to Scotland.
Michael Clarlr will be performing on Britain’s best stage for dance in July.
The Festival Theatre‘s stage is the biggest in Britain and the third largest in Europe. Most of the renovation work on the theatre has been carried out on the stage area to convert it from a raked. or sloped. angle to a flat. sprung
; maple surface. Sprained ankles. minor
l l l i
injuries and general dizziness will now be a possible hazard for the unsuspecting audience. instead of the dancers. as the stalls of the theatre have been sloped instead.
‘The sightlines are good for ballet.’
points out Paul lies. the General Manager of the theatre. ‘Now everyone can see the dancers‘ feet. Also there is a wide wing space. When dancers appear on stage in a mid-air trajectory. it is because they have enough room for a proper run-up.‘
‘In the programme.‘ adds lles. ‘there's a good mixture of companies. The English National Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet both believe it's the best space in the UK for dance. Now we can host large dance
companies'in comfort and we'd like the theatre to become the ﬁrst National Dance House. And we hope in the future. even outwith the Festival weeks. to bring lots of international companies to Scotland.‘
There have been various attempts in recent years to establish a national dance house in London which have come to nothing. But the opening of the Festival Theatre gives Scotland a chance to stake its claim and it is evident from the imaginative programming for the ﬁrst season that the potential will not be wasted. There remains of course the problem of ﬁlling i900 seats. ‘Contemporary dance was big in the 70s and early 80s.‘ says lles. ‘But now we have a long way to go and we don‘t underestimate how difﬁcult the theatre will be to ﬁll.‘
However. many companies are beginning to raise their public proﬁle and reach a wider audience. Rambert has teamed up with the London Musici Orchestra. appointed Christopher Bruce as artistic director and. thanks to a big new investment from the Arts Council. has ambitious plans to broaden its appeal. It intends to pull off the wraps from the revamped company in Edinburgh.
‘lt‘s a great national showcase. with a big. beautiful auditorium.‘ says Peter Bridges of the Rambert Dance Company. ‘We‘re very excited and we're launching our whole tour and the new-look Rambert in Edinburgh. It‘s a wonderful opportunity to showcase new work and it's something that we really wanted to do. l sometimes wish the theatre was in London.‘
I Evelyn Glennie Virtuoso Scottish percussionist who has achieved international acclaim. 19 Jul.
I English Bach Festival Highly accomplished interpretations of Gluck‘s Orphe’e et Euridice and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas from this admired opera company. 21—22 Jul.
I Kronos Quartet Unconventional string quartets are all the rage these days, but the San Francisco-based Kronos are still the leaders of the pack. Kronos have proved thatjust about anything is fair game for the string quartet medium. and have a remarkably good strike rate in actually bringing off their more outlandish experiments. Their programme on this occasion will include a new work by Soﬁa Gubaidulina. alongside music by Henryk Gorecki and jazz clarinettist Don Byron. 23 Jul.
I Labeque Slsters Katia and Mirielle Labeque will bring their customary virtuosity and Gallic ﬂair to a distinctly jazz-inﬂected programme. Music includes Poulenc and Milhaud alongside music arranged for two pianos from Bemstein‘s West Side Story, and pieces written for them by jazzers Michel Camilo and John McLaughlin. 27 Jul.
I Mlchael Clark While the critical establishment may despair at the shock tactics Clark has employed of bare- burnmcd costumes. giant dildos and having his mum cavor'ting semi-naked. even they cannot resist the sheer brilliance of his dancing and his increasingly mature choreography. His last performance in Scotland. Modern Masterpiece at Tramway in 1992. merited its title and marked a welcome return to form after a complicated period ofcreative fatigue. personal reassessment and drug dependency. He is bringing his expanded company back with a new work. 0. danced to Stravinsky. 29 Jul.
I Scotland The What? Buff. George and Stephen are a tnore traditional Aberdonian export than Michael Clark. 31 Jul.
I Noddy All aboard for Toyland in a week of afternoon and early evening performances timed to suit kids of all ages. 2—6 Aug.
I Michael llyman Band A long overdue major concert appearance for the Nytnan Band. in association with the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. Nyman's success as a writer of ﬁlm soundtracks for Peter Greenaway has been surpassed by the runaway success of his score for Jane Campion‘s The Piano, which has now metamorphosed into The Piano Concerto . This appearance with his own ensemble will include his chamber work The Fall of Icarus alongside selections from the ﬁlm music. 6 Aug.
I [let llorslre Kammerorlrester That's the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra to you and me. in a programme of Mozart. Schoenberg. Tippett and Beethoven. 7 Aug.
I Ted lleath Orchestra Long established as the leading conventional jazz big band
on the British scene. the band continues to thrive under the direction of trombonist Don Lusher. 8 Aug.
I Horse The band's classy songs and driving soft-rock has not yet really caught on beyond Scotland. but it has a huge and enthusiastic following here. 9 Aug.
I George Shearing The London-born pianist has been a major ﬁgure on the international jazz scene for over four decades. [0 Aug.
I Fidelio Scottish Opera present Beethoven‘s majestic political fable (and his only opera) as their Edinburgh Festival production. with Michael Pabst as Florestan and Elizabeth Whitehouse as Leonora. l5, I7Aug.
I Mark Morris Dance Group This will he the company‘s third successive visit to the Edinburgh Festival and this year Mark Morris is bringing his most celebrated major work L'Allegro. Because of its scale involving 24 dancers, a chamber orchestra. ﬁve solo singers and a full chorus. the piece is only rarely performed. but it represean the ﬁnest expression to date of the work of one of the world's most talented and inspiring choreographers. 20—22 Aug.
I lite Lemper The German singer tends to defy simple categorisation. and ranges stylistically from classical tojazz and beyond in her re-interpretation of between-the-wars Berlin cabaret culture. 21—22 Aug.
I A Midsummer Night’s Dream Major interest is sure to focus in this likely-t0- be-controversial Festival production from Australian Opera. the people who brought you Strictly Ballroom. It is heralded as a raw. sexually-charged interpretation of Britten's opera. in the unlikely setting of British-ruled India. 25—27 Aug.
I the Hour We Knew liothing of Each Other An intriguing and beguiling drama performed by the Shaunbuhne am
Lehniner Platz of Berlin in which the stage is ﬁlled by a parade of 400 characters. 3/ A rig—3 Sept.
I British Youth Opera A double bill from the cream of the aspiring opera stars of the future. with Tchaikovsky‘s Eugene ()negin and Rossini 's The 'I‘hieving Magpie to exercise their talents. 7—10 Sept.
I Carmen Jones More spectacular Hammerstein. in this celebrated re- working of Bizet‘s opera. transported to the American South. and featuring an all- black cast. not exactly the norm on Broadway in 1943. l3Sept—I OH
I Misa Flamenca Guitarist Paco Pena's spectacular hybrid creation was a massive success on record. but opportunities to hear the work live are rare. Pena is widely regarded as the leading ﬂamenco musician. and his fusion of that music's distinctive dance rhythms with the liturgy of the mass has a striking power all of its own. I8 Sept.
I Choir of King’s College, Cambridge Varied programme of early and contemporary religious music from this celebrated boy's choir. 25 Sept.
I Isreal in Egypt The Sixteen perform Handel's epic oratorio in the second of their three programmes. Expect a fresh. ﬁnely-honed. small-scale performance.
I Cinderella The Scottish Ballet returns to Edinburgh with Peter Darrell’s version of the magical fairy tale. 4—8 Oct.
I Russian Army Cavalcade A celebration of dancing. singing. and costumes of Mother Russia with balalaikas and acrobatics. 9-10 Oct.
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10 The List 3—16 June 1994