As the performance strand of Tramway’s homegrown Dark Lights season high-kicks in, Ellie Carr is pleased to find Scottish
dance well represented.
Once a year. when Nikki Milican’s celebrated New Moves season comes to town. Glasgow becomes the fast-beating heart of the European dance scene. And each year the same nagging question arises. How come. in a festival that boasts the cutting edge in French. Spanish. Portuguese and increasingly (‘anadian work. Scotland is so severely under- represented? Festival director Milican makes no secret of the fact that in her view. the work currently being generated on home turf simply doesn't make
the international grade.
it's not that she's unsupportive. During last year's New Moves at Tramway. she drafted in Canadian dance guru Peter Boneham to lead intensive choreography ‘labs' with four key Scottish dance- artists. and closed the festival with a high-level debate between funding bodies. promoters. Carmdian/Quebecois choreographers and the public about the state of Scottish dance. All of this was seized on and engaged with by the local dance community. but when the inspiring international dance convoy linally packed up and shipped out. the old concerns remained. If a Glasgow-based dance festival like New Moves still isn't willing to
programme Scottish work. then who is'?
Luckily. Scottish dance does have its advocates. Steve Slater. a member of the team recently appointed to revolutionise venue-management for Glasgow's Department of Performing Arts. has programmed a vibrant season of new Scottish work
local companies. Group N and Dudendance. and intensive workshops with Glaswegian choreographer
Marissa Zanotti. So how come Slater has managed to 3 drum tip so much dance activity when all around him : folk are complaining of a drought?
‘l was quite surprised at the amount of work that is around.‘ he admits. ‘lt's almost as if you look around and there's nothing out there. but if you stand up and
1 shout. “Is anyone out there?" people pop their heads
at Tramway. in which dance is a key player. Flying
under the collective banner Dark Lights. the two- month-long season is a rich mix of visual and performing arts. including work by radical theatre
outfit Process [Ten 28]. challenging video—art from
i Stephanie Smith and Edward Stewart. and - thanks to
§ Slater's input — a special Tramway commission from
' talented young Glasgow-based dance company.
Alongside the Crush commission, which forms the dance centrepiece of the Dark Light season. Slater has helped tip the balance of the programme further in favour of dance with another two performances by
Crush: ireshly squeezed dance energy
out from behind things and say. "I'm here!".‘
Going back to the old New Moves question (‘Does any of this work measure up to that fierce international coriipetitiori'i') Slater comments: ‘I can see what Nikki [Milican] is saying. But the other side of the coin is that if no one gives them a chance then they‘ll never be ready. Personally I‘m of a mind to throw those artists into the tire and see what happens. i think people will get their lingers burned initially. but unless you‘re prepared to take that risk then they will never take off. l think there is talent out there. and people like Vicky Beattie of Crush should be developed and seen as people who’re destined to go somewhere — and we should help them on their way.“
Slater‘s admiration for Victoria Beattie‘s work began when be commissioned one of her early works. Stormy 'I'm'sos. several years ago at Paisley Arts Centre. and he's delighted to be in a position to give her the means to create Blunt/birds. by far her biggest ~x~ work to date. Seen as a work-in-progress at the Edinburgh Fringe. it's already a piece of substance and infectious zeal. Combining video. channel- hopping stream-of-consciousness text. hyped-up everyday mannerisms. vegetables (don't ask) and disco trousers. this modern-day tale of fear and loathing still needs work in places. and looked like it was dying to break out of its tiny space at Edinburgh's Gilded Balloon. But give it a few weeks and an oflicial premiere. and Blow/birds may just be what‘s needed to prove that Scottish dance is alive and kicking. and just waiting for a Tramway commission. ‘Dance needs a champion.‘ says Slater. ‘And i think Tramway can be that.‘ (Ellie Carr) Bloodbirds. Crux/1. 'l‘mmwrrv. Glasgow. Thurs l4—Sui /6 Sept. 8pm.
mm— Cox and his vox
Chirpy chappy: Brian Cox In The Music Man
Brian Cox is not your average song ’n’ dance man. Indeed, prior to taking the title role In Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man he’d never actually been in one beiore. And he had to audition ior it, lust to prove he could hack it in the tonsils and tootsies department. Better known ior weighty classical roles, Cox was about to start work on Richard III tor the New Shakespeare Company when The Music Man came up.
‘My kids recorded the iilm on video years ago,’ says Cox, having shimmied oii stage aiter a matinee iust ilve minutes since. ‘They watched it over and over again so I got to know it really well. I was also a great admirer oi liobert Preston, who played the lead. When I saw The Music Man was being done I asked it it’d been cast, and when they said it hadn’t I asked Ii they’d consider casting me. They weren’t so sure.’ Hence the audition.
‘It's been very hard to be accepted
aiter playing all these great brooding roles, though whenever I’ve done serious stuii I’ve always looked at the humour in It. But this Is a gilt oi an acting role.’ Cox plays a Pied Piper iigure whose dictum that one should never allow the demands oi tomorrow to lnteriere with the excitement oi today is as pertinent now as it ever was. ‘lt’s about living in the moment.’
Dating irom the 1950s, The Music Man originally opened in the States at much the same time as West Side Story captured the hearts and imaginations oi a show-going public more prepared to embrace the trendin ephemeral than something with more mileage. llo change there then, except that while West Side Story remains a dated, Ii thrilling, period piece, the iniluence oi The Music Man on music theatre has been seminal.
‘lt’s not deep by any stretch oi the imagination. It Is entertaining, though, In a quite magical way. it’s very rare
you wake up and look iorward to doing a show that night. But with this it puts you in a good mood ior the rest oi the day.’
Cox was last seen on an Edinburgh stage wringing the odd laugh irom lbsen’s The Master Builder at the Lyceum, where he remains an artistic associate, and where he looks set to return, in spirit, perhaps, rather than body, sooner than one might imagine. Aiter this, though, he’d like to concentrate on iilm work.
‘I’m theatred out Just now, though I’m always looking ior new places to periorm. The R38 and the National have no attraction ior me anymore. They’re too institutionalised. You never know, though. I’ve had no otiers, so maybe no one’ll want to employ me alter this.’
At least he can always sing ior his supper. (lleil Cooper)
The Music Man, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 12-16 Sept.
The List 8-2l Sept 1995 51