FringeReview Scotland 2023
Showcasing the ambition and abilities of dancers drawn from throughout Scotland, along with international partners, tonight with an Irish company, we have several sections of work presented in duos and groups. With a number of divergent topics presented from the novel, the Brothers Kasimov, misogyny in dance, mental health, growing up and the poetry of Assata Shakur and writings of Audre Lorde, amongst many other salient topics this has the artistic guidance of a number of young and experienced choreographers at the helm, including young dancers making their move into that field. This meandered with such diverse joy in dark and light as the cast presenting them.
The sweep of this is impressive. Although presenting a number of divergent pieces there were a few that stood out. The collective choreography of My Mind is Over the Matter managed to get past the clichéd opening to be quite a powerful visual record of mental health and ill being. Burnt from Both Ends also managed to draw me in and make the connection with the subject matter. I think that it is no surprise that it was the pieces with a clear connection to their subject matter which worked best for me though I would add the final piece, the Art of Falling is a fitting finale. It also was pretty clear to the brief set, and we were encouraged along that particular pathway. There was also, at the beginning of the second half, a show stealing piece, using the technology at their fingertips with an impressive interaction with the projection of the future and on our screens, but there was much more to this than just one showstopper.
Of course, when you have a large group of young people, there shall be levels within the group. There were a few areas where it was not quite as sharp and impressive, whilst some of the group and duo work needs to connect more with partners but rather than detract from it this added to my appreciation of it. I loved the interaction between each group and artistically this allows us as an audience to encourage that development: rather than be put off by the limit of performance I was enthralled by the scope of their imagination. In a room filled with friends and family that will always be the case – out in the bigger world when they hit the Fringe audiences may be infiltrated by supporters but be made up mainly of real payers at the door, they might be looking for a slicker performance.
This was bold and it was bright, and it kept me wrapped for its entire time. That included some deft work in the use of theatre arts was good and costume in particular struck me as I watched people go from what felt like a muted and pastel River Island to the futuristic cloaks that shimmered away heralding fear.
When this had collective pride, it worked really well, and the ensemble felt exactly that. Where there were gaps, I think it is more about people racing ahead and being unaware of their environment. Bringing the people with you is the part of communication and physically this is an impressive focus for the company and more importantly, for the young choreographers – this is quite a platform upon which to start the journey – the future is very bright indeed.