News: In the Festival & on the Fringe - Dance in Edinburgh

Tuesday 4 August 2015 by Carmel Smith

Scottish Dance Theatre's 'Yama' by Damien Jalet. Photo: Brian Hartley.

If you’re in Edinburgh this month, you’ll have hundreds of shows to choose from in the International Festival and on the fringe. Some are premieres, whilst others have already toured widely. Here’s our selection of just some of the dance shows that have caught our eye, or that we’ve already featured in reviews or interviews on, with links to where you can find out about more…

This year’s Edinburgh International Festival includes five dance shows. At the Edinburgh Playhouse Ballett Zürich perform a double bill of a piece by their director Christian Spuck and Wayne McGregor’s Kairos, set to Max Richter’s reimagining of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (27 -29 Aug) and Germany’s Ballett am Rhein joins the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for Martin Schläpfer’s epic response to Mahler’s 7th Symphony (20 – 22 Aug). At the Festival Theatre in The Real, contemporary flamenco artist Israel Galvan draws together an extraordinary group of singers, instrumentalists and dancers to tell of the plight of the Roma and the Sinti peoples in fascist Spain during the 1930s and 40s (19 – 21 Aug) and Sylvie Guillem is in town for three nights (8 – 10 Aug) with her farewell tour show Life in Progress. Chinese contemporary dance company TAO Dance Theatre are at the Royal Lyceum Theatre for two nights (17 & 18 Aug).

On the Fringe, London’s contemporary dance venue The Place will be in residence at Summerhall presenting Ben Duke’s one man take on Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) [ reviews ]; Igor And Moreno’s Idiot-Syncrasy [ review ]and Vera Tussing Projects: T-Dance (various dates, 5 – 30 August).

The Place has also been providing a London platform for other dance productions on their way to Edinburgh including Sarah Blanc’s hilarious lecture style demo It Started With Jason Donovan (a show which itself started at The Place’s platform Resolution! – reviewed here ) (New Town Theatre, 19 – 27 Aug); Sue MacLaine (with choreographic direction by Jonathan Burrows) Can I Start Again Please (Summerhall, 5 – 30 August) – a duet and duel between spoken language and sign language; The Alchemist Theatre’s Liberation –investigating the psychological power of colour (Zoo Southside, 7 – 19 Aug); Billy Cowie’s Under Flat Sky – fusing contemporary dance and butoh (Dance Base, 26 – 30 Aug); Made In China’s Tonight I’m Gonna Be The New Me (Forest Fringe, 24 – 28 Aug).

Another show seen in a preview at The Place last week is Sweetshop Resolution’s I loved you and I loved you (The Sanctuary, Zoo Venues, 23 -31 Aug), which is part of a Welsh dance strand presented by Coreo Cymru and Chapter in the final week of the festival [ read Donald Hutera’s interview with Sally Marie and Lise Smith’s review of the work in progress ]. The strand also features Gwyn Emberton’s My People, (The Sanctuary, Zoo Venues, 24 – 29 August) Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru’s Dawns Ysbrydion/Ghost Dance directed by Eddie Ladd and Sarah Williams (Zoo Southside, 24 – 29 Aug) and Caitlin, which Gywn Emberton co-devised and performs with Eddie Ladd, and Deborah Light directs. Coreo Cymru is an initiative set up to encourage and manage the creation and production of new dance activity, and to support the development of Wales based artists and companies.

This year for the first time a new iF (Integrated Fringe) Platform will showcase five of the best integrated arts companies from the UK involving disabled and non disabled performers. “Integrated work is scarce at the Fringe and through the platform we will be able to help programmers make bold and exciting choices,” says Lou Rogers of Stopgap Dance Company who are presenting the platform – and will also be making their own Edinburgh debut with Artificial Things, featuring David Toole (Zoo Southside, 23 – 31 Aug). The line up also includes a solo by dance artist Marc Brew, For Now I am (Zoo Southside, 22 – 30 Aug).

James Wilton’s company are also at Zoo Southside (23 – 31 August) with his latest show Last Man Standing [ our review ]. It explores the fragility of human existence, and the desire to survive, propelled by James’ trademark soundtrack of heavy/prog rock. “I think the super-human physicality is what drives the work and what sets it apart from my peers,” he says. “And the martial arts/sport influence in the work makes it quite un-dance like, whilst still remaining deeply physical.”

Hip hop artist Jonzi D is preparing for a long run of his show The Letter, at the Assembly, George Square (5 – 31 August). It’s a true tale of the dilemma he faced when offered an MBE, with sharp and often hilarious portrayal of the advice he received from friends, colleagues and family. For a solo show, it has a rich cast. As an East Londoner of Afro-Caribbean descent, his own feelings are as diverse as the various characters he brings to the stage. (Clip shows a night in the first tour)

Also at the Assemby, Gandini Juggling will be in residence with their intricate and enjoyable 4 × 4 Ephemeral Architecture, which with a cast of ballet dancers and jugglers, explores the common ground shared by ballet and mathematics – a whole lot more fun than that might sound! (5 – 30 August). [ read our Q&A with Sean Gandini and review ]

Earlier this year choreographer Joseph Mercier told us about creating his new show R.I.O.T , in collaboration with his company PanicLab. “It’s the result of a lifetime of wanting to be a superhero, and three years of figuring out how to put that childhood dream on stage.” [ read the full interview ] The result is a comic book come to life that mixes spoken text, projected illustrated imagery and high octane fighting. “Set to be one of the hottest tickets at this year’s fringe” said the Observer’s Luke Jennings. (The Sanctuary, Zoo venues, 7 – 31 August)

On home ground, Scottish Dance Theatre present a collaboration with choreographer Damien Jalet. Yama (‘mountain’ in Japanese) takes inspiration from pagan and animist rituals, in particular those practiced by the Yamabushis (Japanese ascetic monks) in the region devastated by the 2011 Tsunami and nuclear catastrophe. “As a national and international company we want to feed into the cultural diet of our audiences and that doesn’t just mean investing in the talent on our doorstep,” says Artistic Director Fleur Darkin. “We invite accomplished artists from around the world to make new shows led by imagination. The breathtaking collaboration between French choreographer Damien Jalet and US visual artist Jim Hodges is one such manifestation of a startling imagination. Jalet’s preoccupation with ritual in relation to the land has created a kind of spiritual transcendence as our amazing dancers transform from twenty first century humans into spiritual figures.” (Zoo Southside, 22 – 29 August).

Chances are you’ll be aware of Barely Methodical’s Bromance – it’s already been a big hit, first as part of London International Mime Festival and lately as part of Underbelly, on the South Bank, who are presenting a Circus Hub on the Meadows 360 (7 – 29 August). [ Read our interview ]

Amina Khayyam Dance Company bring Yerma, inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca’s play to New Town Theatre (6 – 12 August). Amina, who teaches at the University of Surrey, is particularly concerned with issues that affect marginalized women. “I have approached the re-telling of Yerma using the passion of Kathak” , she told us in an interview in 2013 . “I use Abhinaya – the gestural facial expressions – as the central movement within it, but I subvert it by negating it – so that my Yerma wears a face of death – there is no prettiness, no jewels, glitz, or glamour. The rural Spain of Lorca’s Yerma transposes to inner city Britain: some values remain the same.”

From 24 – 29 August, the British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2015 present 30 companies, creating a snapshot of the diverse work across art forms currently being created in the UK. We’ve already mentioned some of the dozen dance artists and companies featured in the showcase, but here are links to some of the others we’ve included on these pages recently – Liz Aggiss , Project O and Wendy Houstoun – and the full list of dance companies presented by the British Council in Edinburgh 2015 is here:

Full dance programme at Zoo
Full dance programme at Dance Base

This year for the first time the Total Theatre Awards will include a category for dance, in collaboration with The Place. “There are lots of great, bold dance shows in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and thousands of people there to see them,” says Eddie Nixon, Director Theatre & Artist Development at The Place. “There are shows that deserve to be talked about and in joining forces with Total Theatre to sponsor this new award The Place is hoping to fuel the conversation amongst the audience and the critics about what makes a unforgettable piece of dance performance.” Shortlisted shows will be announced on 20 August, with the winners announced on Friday 28 August.

Main photo: Scottish Dance Theatre’s Yama by Brian Hartley

Your Comments

  1. Soren Niewelt 17 August 2015

    If you're at Fringe and a dance lover, pop in to C South, St Peter's Lutton Place at 1.15pm to see JSLN Dance Company performing their new neo classical work Transitions of (I)dentity. It's our first visit to Fringe and we'd love to see you there supporting us.

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