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FringeReview Scotland 2019

Low Down

Four choreographers – Thomas Small, Christine Devaney, Tony Adigun and Rosie Kay – take three weeks to mold 20 female dancers into four creatives pieces which will look separately at issues explored in the rehearsal room which were, a sense of being “other” than the rest, the future, which they are, the sense of difference whilst having something to say and a baroque fantasy based on international research. In amongst was a very interesting and fascinating exploration of how 20 dancers within such a short space of time who are clearly at a high level of performance can bring new work to light with such a blend and stretch of styles and connections.


Credit Paul Watt Photography and YDance. 

I was not alone in my assessment for the evening and brought an 11 year old expert who dances along with me. The best compliment I can give is that we debated and discussed throughout and thereafter the performances.

The first piece, “The Other” was my favourite, not hers. It showed how being part of a group can be quite tragic as you target someone outside of a group; until the revenge. I found it fused the narrative which was very strong with performance techniques that pushed the performers and kept us onside. At times I found the speed was dominant whilst the elegance got a little lost but overall it was a strong and evocative collective piece of work.

The second piece, “Yes we are the future and yes we are dancing for you now” was one about which we debated at some length. I had an 11 year old dancer does not like speaking in a dance show… I am less upset by it. It gave the piece two very good structural connections and I was delighted to hear the range and diversity of the dancers as well as see them. With a smaller number of dancers there was more opportunity to watch the strength in the interplay and duos – of which there was much vitality.

After a short interval we got piece three, “Something to Say” which we both found challenged each of us most. We thought that it was the most “out there” of the pieces and, for me, I felt it became obvious that performers who had the opportunity to work with Adigun seemed to relish this most. It took less of a narrative approach and gave us more of a collective conscience which worked well. I just felt it lacked challenge.

The final piece, “A Baroque Fantasy” was her absolute favourite. Perhaps it was the balletic style which was part of the structure she found most appealing whilst I enjoyed the business onstage, she found it distracting. Where there was a need for precision at the end of the production, at a time when 40 + minutes had been completed, these young dancers were finding that harder and harder so some pieces just lacked the precision in hand and foot that worked best. Dancing in ballet in socks was a fascinating discussion afterwards…

I still found it to be four astonishing pieces. The lighting added greatly to the performances, the costumes worked best for me in pieces 1 and 4 whilst the sunshine and pastels of 2 and 3 were quite insipid beside the movement.

As someone who has been involved in devised pieces in a summer festival, I am still in awe of how this young cast managed 30 minutes each of devised work with at least 3 choreographers. The rehearsals alone over 3 weeks must have been their own tough challenge. I got dizzy trying to work it all out. The fact that I am able to be critical at all is a compliment to each and all – the collective of choreographers and dancers, the creative team backstage and the management of the entire programme.

And there was, as often can be the case, a casualty. One of the dancers from the first piece injured herself and was unable to continue into the second half. Our hearts went out to her. I think I saw her outside afterwards; inconsolable. My heart went out a second time, however it was testimony to her colleagues that whilst there were obvious gaps, their performance was the equal of their desire to allow the show to go on. Both take credit because those left onstage carried on and the one left out learnt a tough lesson. Scottish Youth Dance take credit for not risking her further but showing the right level of trust in the young to be supportive of the young; such is the future made and yes they kept dancing for us then.


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