CONTEMPORARY DANCE A Crowd Is Made Of Many/Paper Back Glasgow: CCA, Tue IO & Wed ll Mar/Fri I3 & Sat 14 Mar.
The New Moves contemporary dance festival may be drawing to a close, but not before the home-grown talent has a chance to shine. Director Nikki Millican is confident that the inclusion of Scottish companies in the programme doesn’t show any sort of national tokenism, so expectations of Kultyer Dance Theatre and Frank McConnell will be as high as for any foreign visitors.
Both companies have worked in Ottawa at Le Groupe Dance Lab with Peter Boneham; and McConnell's new piece, A Crowd Is Made Of Many, is performed by the Canadian dancers. So can we expect to see some of that New World influence?
Kultyer’s Paul Joseph actually feels that Boneham works very individually with companies, allowing their own style to show through. Kultyer’s piece, Paper Back, has elements of street dance and messages about mixed race which were fresh - if not alien - to the Canadians. ’It wasn't like Peter holding our hand, but giving us tailored support, including advice on sets and costumes,’ says Joseph. 'It really allowed us to explore our ideas, without ever feeling overpowered because we're a Scottish company. After all, we’re not a world
Atlantic krossing: Kultyer Dance Theatre in Paper Back
leader in contemporary dance like Canada. We were able to keep our boots on and stamp our authority. There’s no way we're a wart on the bum of New Moves, with all its international names.’
For Frank McConnell, a choreographer since the mid- 805, working with Boneham wasn’t a question of being changed by a mentor. It was about having the facilities, time and encouragement to go for what he really wanted. ’It’s so rare in Scotland to have the chance to work with seven dancers - it just opened up options that were joyous for me,‘ according to McConnell, who feels Scotland is way behind in dance funding. ’It means that arguments about the quality of Scottish dance are a nonsense, since most dancers and choreographers simply can’t maintain employment. To get quality you need to be doing — dancing and choreographing - not just sitting waiting for opportunities.‘
Clearly New Moves has given both Kultyer and N5 .onnell unaccustomed privileges: time and first-class facilities to develop their work, free from the grinding constraints of financial worries. With that strength behind them to level the playing field, we'll have a chance to see just how Scottish talent stands up to international standards. (Don Morris)
3 A Crowd Is Made Of Many can also be seen at MacRobert Arts Centre, Stir/mg on Thu 72 Mar.
CONTEMPORARY DANCE Codes Of Cobra Glasgow: CCA, Fri 6 & Sat 7 Mar.
Mining the scene: En-Knap in Codes Of Cobra
62 THE lIST 6—19 Mar 1998
It doesn’t always have to be mirrored studios. Some dancers and dance- makers spring from unusual soil.
Iztok Kovac is a perfect example. En- Knap, the name of this Slovenian choreographer’s company, translates as ’one coalminer’. It's a reference to his native Trbovlje, a mining Village.
On some basic, Visceral level, Koveac’s dances betray both his Current big City surroundings and his earthy, small town roots. He has spent four years in urban Ljubljana, inventing instinctive, high-impact movement that is both razor-edged and silky smooth. In the process, he’s acquired a reputation as one of the most talented European choreographers of this generation.
En-Knap’s latest work, Codes Of Cobra, attempts to evoke the mythical essence of Eastern Europe and the image of a sinuous animal. The six dancers, Kovac among them, come across as real people whose every action is charged With drama.
’lt's nothing to be defined,’ Kovac says. struggling, in good English, to explain his choregraphy. 'It‘s more of an investigation, where the centre of the
body is very strong and goes towards the floor in sharp starts and stops '
Kovac’s background includes professional ballroom dancing. ’The sense of rhythm and elegance was fascinating,’ he says, ’but the style, mentality and atmosphere were very artifioal and absolutely not right,’
At home Kovac is something of a celebrity. 'I was the first person in contemporary dance to receive my country's highest national award,’ he says, his mice expressing both pride and surprise. ’After this, I formed an assocration that has helped raise the standard of Slovenian dance, which before was touristic and amateur.’
Kovac and company also produce dance films, some of which are incorportated into their stage work. En-Knap’s last celluloid effort, called Vertigo Bird (which can be seen at CCA this fornight) was voted best of all Slovenian films in I996. The honour prompts Kovac's wry laughter. ’It‘s only 33 minutes long, and the only words are in Portuguese!’ he chuckles. 'So I think we've got a lot of enemies now.‘ (Donald Hutera)
MODERN CLASSIC Mother Courage And
Edinburgh: Royal Lyceum Theatre, Fri 13 Mar— Sat 4 Apr.
Recent reports of internal conflict at the Lyceum — between artistic director Kenny Ireland and general manager Nicky Axford — are not distracting the theatre from the job in hand. ’We’re playing to 75—80% houses and we’ve been voted the best theatre in Scotland,’ comments Ireland. 'There's friction in every theatre in the country because there's stress on everyone — two peOpIe are doing five people's jobs all the time. There’s a couple of things to be sorted out,’ he adds, ’and that’s what we’re doing.’
Ireland is more forthcoming about his impending production of Brecht’s classic play about war, politics and families. ’We’ve gone througth years of people taking on Brecht's methodology,’ he explains, ’but the plays stand up on their own. Brecht was a poet and a Marxist, and these two sides fought With each other all the time. He kept writing beautiful stuff and then worrying that it had lost its message.’
That message’s continuing relevance was demonstrated by a recent incident involving Maggie Steed, who plays the title role. ’Maggie went to a meeting about Iraq,' explains Ireland. ’An Iraqi woman stood up and told a story about how the sanctions have affected her. Having begged for days for painkillers for her sick child, she got this medicine and went straight to the market to sell the drugs to buy food for her other five children. That's absolutely the dilemma for Mother Courage.’
Ireland is particularly enthusiastic about David Hare's translation, which allows for the international nature of Mother Courage’s ill-fated children. 'The regionalisation of the play is avoided,’ he says. ’The play is set in the melting-pot of Europe, and all the children were born in different countries. There's a mixture of different voices, and we're using actors from different places — Ireland, Scotland and England.‘
Ireland also plans to exploit the often underplayed humour of the play. One hopes, for the sake of all concerned, that good humour Will prevail both in front of the Curtain and behind it. (Steve Cramer)
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Maggie Steed: taking courage from the beleagured mothers of Iraq