Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 24-Sat 28 Feb



Various venues, until 13 Mar

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys canonical, unexperimental work when you show up to the theatre, it might be as well for you to remember that the various forms of art that you’re watching were, almost invariably, extremer experimental in their day. So if you want good art in the future, you need to allow an avant-garde to flourish. Surprise yourself with this kind of work once in a while, and there’s at least a chance you’ll find yourself at a historic turning point that you can tell your grandchildren about.

Michael Clark, who’s covered in our feature up front, was once someone appearing in small bills in festivals, so if you want to catch this kind of work early, don’t forget the rest of New Territories, which is exploding across Glasgow as you read this. Mark Tompkins’ Song and Dance at Tramway, for example, looks like a striking example of metatheatre, depicting a performer after his performance is over. His reflections take him over in the buzz of coming down, and as the technicians strike the set, he moves monologically through random thoughts, recreating and moving to songs as diverse as those of Patti Smith and Prince. It sounds like fascinating stuff.

Sussan Deyhim’s unique blend of musical styles might be something you're already aware of, and this festival will provide you with an opportunity to hear her eclectic blend of Middle Eastern, African and contemporary technology- influenced music in a rare visit to this country. The Tron will host her, and Laurie Booth, whose new work, Fire/Ice/Dream moves into dance a fascinating piece of history. Based upon the strange, dream-like creatures tattooed upon the body of a 6,000-year-old corpse, recently disinterred from ice by Russian scientists, this promises a trip into a primal dream landscape.

Caden Mason/Big Art Group tackles the great cultural motif of film in its Flicker, a piece in which straight narrative is twisted and surreally altered as one movie blends into another. Expect plenty of drama, and some monkeying with your perceptions. Indeed, expect that generally from this festival, which produces many more events than I can discuss here. (Steve Cramer)

We've all been there: elbows in the face. luggage toppling down. brushing against inappropriate parts of a total stranger as you squeeze down the aisle. Train travel dontcha Just love it? But at least our only concern is finding a seat and keeping the coffee upright imagine trying to dance in those conditions. Welcome to A Midsummer Night's Dream. the latest offering from Northern Ballet Theatre. No longer populated by fairies. dukes and play-acting labourers. Shakespeare's comic play has been transported to a 19/10s ballet company. off on a tom of Scotland.

Pucking around

Featuring a spectacular set which has won almost as much applause as the performers. Midsummer's is artistic director David Nixon's second full-length ballet with NET since taking over the icigns in 2001. Reaching out to a non-dance audience is high on most dance companies' agendas. but Judging by audience figures. Nixon's highly accessible and humorous new ballet seems to be doing the trick.

Opening in a rehearsal studio. the Midsummr-Br's action soon switches to an overnight sleeper train from King's Cross to Edinburgh t'Vaverley. where the traumas and frustrations of the dance studio become tenfold in the confined carriages. A po\.~.ier-»(:ra/ed artistic director and his pi'ima ballerina \Vllt} taka Theseus and Hippolytai thrash out their relationship. while the other characters llirt and fight in egual measure.

Sussan Deyhim

CONTEMPORARY DANCE .. , . essentiall form the best of X

x FACTOR DANCE Factor lnysome cases Grieg has

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, ~

wed 25 & Thu 26 Feb, then resurrected entire routines. in touring others simply a musical refrain. The reSuII. he says. is a dance Twelve months is a long time in piece which is 'dynamic. wild. contemporary dance. Keeping a haunting. sad. upbeat. strange. company afloat. attracting an athletic. humorous. dark and audience and seCuring arts guirky'.

council funding is no mean feat. The extra money also means Which is why Alan Grieg deserves that rather than juggle

Alive and kicking

a hefty pat on the back for keeping X Factor alive and kicking for 14 long years. Averaging one show a year. Grieg has built up an impressive back catalogue. But due to financial constraints. each work only received a brief Scottish tOur before being cast aside. Now. thanks to a major increase in funding. Grieg can afford to blow the dust off past efforts and polish them tip for a brand new show. Featuring sections from nine previous works. Echoes is 12 unconnected vignettes which

performance and choreography for a 15th time. Grieg can recruit six talented dancers (including spellbinding ex-Rambert boy. David Hughes) to do the work for him. And he's been allowed to break out of the duo trio mould most of his works were cast in. ‘HaVing six dancers has made a huge difference' says Grieg. ‘There are still solos and duets in the show. but as much as possible I've used all six dancers because it's much more exciting." lKelly Apteri

Intent on keeping the hierarchical structure of the original play. but equally keen to set it in fairly modern times. Nixon hit upon the idea of a post—war dance company. But in order for the Marne. dreamlike antics of Act 2 to work. he needed to keep the characters in close proximin "In the play they go into the same forest. so the idea is that things can happen to them collectively' says Nixon. '80 we thought if they're all on the same train. and even in the same car. they can all have a dream that somehow connects.' (Kelly Apteri

“:70 i en .1 My THE LIST 65