FringeReview Scotland 2019
Nine dancers decked in prints by Timorous Beasties, resplendent in the rhythms of Brazil, sounding a clarion call in collaboration with Kieran Hurley, greet us as we come to stand at the edge of their space. Soon, through invitation and the toe tapping beats we find ourselves encouraged to be part of the movement, part of the experience, part of the resistance. This is about the mixture of cultures we inhabit as ourselves, it is about the way we see ourselves whilst ithers see us, and from repeated dance moves to the impressively choregraphed set pieces to a modernly discordant Ceilidh so that by the end we are reminded of what it is to be Scots and what it is to be part of the tussle and tumelty o the creative diaspora, whilst still at hame.
This has dance firmly at its centre but it also has a political heartbeat. As we enter we are standing, being asked to be part of a piece of simple movement that starts to go from one area to another, bringing people in to become like a four or larger for a Ceilidh dance. With words of welcome from the DJ hanging in our ears we are thoroughly part of what is about to emerge from this space.
It is that welcome and engagement that sets the tone. It began after a little while to drag and I was hopeful for something more; I got it. The nine dancers sparkle as they manipulate the space and despite my inner health and safety coordinator worry over the leads being pulled across the floor, I was at ease with the words coming from our dancers as the mike was taken and the spillage of community came on. The words were welcome and thoughtful. Who we are, requested and confirmed as well as how we are all one and all part of a bigger group – Scotland.
I had, that day, been in a school talking to a teacher coordinating parent’s night. Her biggest headache was interpreters and I sympathized with the coordination headache but was delighted at her joy at such divergent experiences for their pupils. The different accents that came through the PA here was yet another delightful reminder of how we have such richness in what separates us, and therefore ought to unite us. Not only was the format of a Ceilidh so “us” but it also brought me back to long referenced Scots notions of Jock Tamson’s Bairns and a Man’s a Man (Or gender neutral or female or whatever identity they feel as we are all yin, with their yang).
The music was sufficiently reminiscent of a dance hall, or a rave and of the time that you could see the younger elements of the crowd, truly taking off, the older ones caught up in the enthusiasm around them as it built towards its own crescendo.
We needed little by way of set and props and the boxes of lights and speakers were a nice element with which they played and incorporated them into set pieces but I found them, at times, a worry because of that drag across the floor; I wondered how it would fare with an inclusive, less mobile crowd. A set of Bluetooth speakers might be better, but I am no technical theatre technician.
At the end I danced towards the car and, given that I dance like an elephant putting out a fire, I may have been glad that I had not joined the throng to spoil it, but added to my head the elephant that was in their room; I had earlier in the week tried to explain to someone who was not of my views that in Scotland, everyone is made equal, especially those who are not. Next time I should buy two tickets and invite my opponent along with me.