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Behind one of the Festival's most unusual productions is a surprising alliance between Scottish sculptor ANDY GOLDSWORTHY and French dancemaker REGINE CHOPINOT. Words: Ellie Carr

MOST TECH CREWS would have a blue fit if they found leaves all over the stage before curtain-up for a big dance show. But not the crew of Vége’tal. This lot are responsible for carrying the leaves on stage, where they are left until the show is over and the curtain comes down.

Végétal is a dance show with a difference that difference is Andy Goldsworthy. The Dumfries-based sculptor who has carved his formidable reputation from stone. ice and tree stumps, has switched his sights to set design for French choreographer Regine Chopinot and her company Ballet Atlantique.

Rather than take the dance to his preferred habitat of the great outdoors. Goldsworthy has chosen to take the great outdoors to the proscenium arch. Hence the leaves, not to

24 “IE usr is—zi Aug 1997

mention the giant rocks and branches that form one of the most unusual and stunning sets you‘re likely to see in a theatre.

‘I get a lot of letters from people saying they want to come and watch me work.’ murmurs the softly-spoken Goldsworthy. ‘Well now‘s their chance.’

Chopinot and Goldsworthy are undoubt- edly an odd couple. The choreographer has made her name through a long career that includes regular collaborations with bad-boy fashion designer John Paul Gaultier. Goldsworthy is a man more at one with the trees and sky than knights in shining gold— embossed armour a la Chopinot/Gallltier.

Goldsworthy admits he went into the project pretty blind. ‘lt wasn’t too premeditated.‘ he says with a grin. ‘I didn‘t really look into what she’d done previously. Which is kind of fortunate really. If I‘d have seen her work with John Paul Gaultier I might not have done it.‘

As it turns out. Goldsworthy had nothing to fear from Chopinot’s excesses. With Vége’ml. the French dancemaker has taken a massive body swerve away from works like her giant chessboard piece Ana and the Gaultier-dressed Romanesque extravaganza St Gem-gm.

Swapping flash designer gear for workies‘ overalls, the cast of Végr‘m/ performs decidedly unflashy. pared-down moves that unfold as slowly and carefully as Goldsworthy‘s changing sets. Which incidentally the dancers help to build. Divided

'I didn't really look into what Chopinot had done, which is kind of fortunate. lf l’d have seen her work with John Paul Gaultier I might not have done Andy Goldsworthv

Végétal: has gobsmacked audiences in several languages

into five sections. liar/l1, Seed. Root. Branch and Leaf. the whole shebang lasts an hour and 40 minutes. with no interval. Not exactly MTV. but then it’s not that kind of piece.

‘lf you‘re wanting a shock-bang-wallop experience then don‘t bother coming.‘ warns Goldsworthy.

Those going along because of Goldsworthyk involvement will not be surprised by this. But. on the Continent. where vegérul has played since NOS. audiences expecting the shock-bang (‘hopinot factor have been gobsmacked in several languages by its slow-burning pacc.

‘Regine has used the collaboration to shift the way she works.‘ admits (ioldsworthy.

As has (iolds‘worthy for that matter. It's hard to picture the man who likes the feel of fresh air on his face watching dancers cavort round his sculptures 'neath the fierce glare of a dozen stage lights.

‘lt‘s very odd.‘ he admits. ‘I can't say I like watching. It‘s very difficult to watch something that is mine but not be able to go out and make it.‘

So who knows. if the temptation gets too much. we may yet see the mild~mannered sculptor getting down on the Playhouse stage.

Végétal (International Festival) Ballet Atlantique Regine Chopinot, Edinburgh Playhouse, 0131 473 2000, Fri 15ISat 16 Aug, 7.30pm, £S—£20.