Browse reviews

FringeReview Scotland 2015

Exalt and 5 Tangos

Scottish Ballet and Indepen-dance

Genre: Dance and Movement Theatre

Venue:  Tramway


Low Down

Marc Brew brings together Scottish Ballet and Indepen-dance in a fascinating first half which seeks, and does, explore physical conversations between the two companies to create one. The second half is given over to the 70’s and Hans van Manen’s tremendous fusion of ballet and modern dance in a new and reverential rendering by Scottish Ballet.


This is a performance that will live long in my memory for a number of reasons. Firstly Exalt, as a performance did not leave me with breathlessness but opened up what, I hope, shall be a growing collaboration. To witness those with physical challenges matching and leading the performers from an equally impressive company was something that I did not think I would see. Exalt asks questions of us in terms of our sympathies, expectations and moreover our pleasure in seeing performance.

At first I gazed and looked for the Indepen-dance performers, like they would have neon signs over their heads for ease of reference. Once I had realised that this was not the object of the exercise I relaxed and began to enjoy. To see all the performers lead, be lead and contribute in equal measure then matched any expectation that I may have had. Finally to leave, pleased and yet challenged, having enjoyed the piece was more than I bargained for. It had an organic yet collaborative feel to it though at times there were sections I thought those who may have felt they were more accomplished lost a little focus at times. 

An example of just how progressively I felt we had moved, came with the appearance of a dancer in a wheelchair. Firstly, not knowing the dancer nor her circumstances I was delighted to see a wheelchair performer onstage. When she kicked her legs up and the got out of the chair I began to become angered; pet TV hate is able bodied actors taking the roles which ought to be for disabled actors. When she rolled the wheelchair away there was such a visual significance for me that I began to accept what might be afoot. My confusion had been compounded by exemplary technique in moving about in it! As she ended the performance, taking her bows in her chair I realised that, this incident alone had lead me to question whether she was disabled and more importantly if it ever really mattered. I don’t want to know whether she is or not, I just want to applaud her dance; is that not progress?

By the end there was one company as claimed and the fusion, the lights, soundscape, technical effects – ladders onstage and lighting alone – gave the right tempo and atmosphere to give an appreciative crowd a great night to open Dance International Glasgow (DiG).

The second half was perhaps more traditional fare but with the radical mind of van Manen writ large there was little to settle in your seats for. This was a fantastic tribute to his work and an accomplished performance. The simple yet highly effective costumes as well as the hypnotic blend of music and lighting kept me attentive and wanting a 6th Tango.

Together these were a highly interesting double act. The possibility that one may have overshadowed the other was quickly dispelled. As I began, if this were a token performance then shame is due as it was so good as well as being worthwhile – creatively. There is a double dose of shame because it has so much to creatively offer, not just for each separate company but collectively as an entity in itself; perhaps we could exalt that 6th Tango…


Show Website

Scottish Ballet and Indepen-dance