FringeReview Scotland 2023
The first half of the evening was all musical. We were treated to Sian, a Gaelic trio of female singers, singing songs written by women, Lyre Lyre a three piece band with an occasional xylophone, and the 6 piece Trip, with influences from almost all of Celt-dom, performing original material from their current albums. The second half saw both Trip and Lyre Lyre combine with others in the band providing original music for an original performance by Scottish Dance Theatre of Moving Cloud. This new performance fused the traditional sound of the Celt, with modern dance from the national organisation.
I’ll be honest and say that my musical knowledge was challenged by the first half, and I began by being less than enthusiastic as I was here for the dance. But if I was a reluctant listener, I ended an enthusiastic fan. Sian began with walking songs and a lullaby that was certainly not one, with haunting melodies and beautiful harmonies which were a simple treat.
Lyre Lyre appeared with a more upbeat approach which built on what had gone before. It reminded me of the richness of culture around me. It left me pondering and being more positive because of it. It was the best approach you could take prior to Trip entering the fray.
Trip took the upbeat and evolved the melancholy and combined both. We were no longer in contemplation but prepared for what was coming next. In short, the boat, the Scandinavian song that is Belgian, three pork pies and a pint of milk had prepared us very well. (You did have to be there)
This was combined expertly with compere Kevin MacLeod, who ensured we treated this as a gentle gig. There was no rush and little hurry to it. Of course, the changes between bands were overlong and when it was announced a 20 minute interval was due, I began to think about when we might escape the venue. When it stretched beyond the 20 minutes, no doubt to allow people an opportunity – the house was full – to buy them CDs each band had talked about…
And then the lights dimmed, the curtain drew back, and the full band were in place. One dancer emerged in white and began to draw us all into a world of coordinated movement, fused with the music and a chance to relax back and remind ourselves of just why this, as a medium, is vibrant and fervent.
Nine dancers, their names suggesting rich diversity, their appearance confirming that, were tightly organised and choreographed with style and vision. Each transition worked superbly and though at some points there were timing gaps in the larger of the group pieces, this was of such dynamism you not only forgave it but wished for more – it gave authenticity to the performance.
The music around it had vibrancy and vitality. It sang itself hoarse whilst giving such a rich platform to the dancers who took that platform and raised it higher. Ironically the best was when the duo had no music. It gave such a richness in contrast and what we had was one of the most exceptional pieces of stillness and movement which had two people with an inner music, share that with the outward audience. The use of such contrast brought to the fire the ensemble nature and the way in which each needed the other to work. It was a fusion piece in its strongest sense.
But what I left with was something more.
I could hear the traditional, saw some of the movements of the musicians seep into the movement of the dancers, but also felt the Celtic vibe of new music with traditional forms, being embraced in a piece of modern dance which absorbed it and allowed it to influence it. There was a major piece of respect on that floor which sang in ways that nobody vocalised. Creativity is in rude health, I know, I shut up and let it convince me.