Dance reviews: Stereoscopic Trilogy 2 | In-be-tween | Dance Dome
Edinburgh Fringe Festival Scotsman review: Stereoscopic Trilogy 2; In-be-tween; Refugees of the Sceptic Heart; Ours Was The Fen Country; Dance Dome, all at Dance Base (Venue 22), reviewed by Kelly Apter
It HAS been a long, full month at Dance Base, but with this second wave of shows, artistic director, Morag Deyes has definitely saved the best until last.
Billy Cowie’s Stereoscopic Trilogy 2 (★★★★) is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Working with 3D imagery and live performance combined, it manages to be both human and technological at the same time. During Art of Movement, a dancer standing on a square plinth duets with another dancer on-screen. But, wearing our 3D glasses, it’s almost hard to know which dancer is in the room with us, and which is virtual.
In Cowie’s second film, Jenseits, Oxana Panchenko duets with herself (both on-screen) standing on a ladder. Finally, Dark Rain is a film for three dancers – one real, two virtual – with a pounding percussion soundtrack (in stark contrast to the gentle cello of previous pieces).
A full version of Art of Movement, with three live and six virtual dancers, is in existence – if we could see that at Dance Base next Fringe, I’m sure it would make a lot of people very happy.
Happiness is not in abundance in Elena Molinaro’s deeply personal solo, In–be–tween (★★★★), but her soul is well and truly bared. Set out like a gallery space, the studio is filled with objects that clearly have their own story to tell. A wedding veil hangs over a pile of nails, small boxes contain perfectly manicured nail clippings and pubic hair, two small hearts sit on a table – one pulsating, one not. And so it goes on.
Into this space walks Molinaro, wearing red high heels and nothing else. She is naked in every way; the vulnerability of her state only intensified by the slow, deliberate actions that follow. Compelling, disturbing and powerful in equal measure, with clear references to self-harm, In-be-tween is one woman’s difficult journey – but there is always a sense that Molinaro is taking us with her.
By comparison, Refugees of the Septic Heart (★★★★) is light relief – which isn’t something you would usually say about the work of Tom Dale Company. It does, however, feature something there hasn’t been a huge amount of at Dance Base this year – dancing. Full-on, fast-paced, exciting contemporary dance, perfectly contained within a visually stunning set, and driven along by Shackleton’s ever-changing score.
Digital media artist Barret Hodgson is as responsible for the work’s success as choreographer Tom Dale and the six endlessly energetic dancers. Ablaze with bright cellular patterns, the large sun-like structure onstage, framed by white pillars and blocks, is striking before a single step is danced. Performed with an almost abstract subtlety, the show starts with an explosive Big Bang then drops us in the middle of today’s financial crisis. At turns frenetic, contemplative and joyful, the movement evokes a sense of a planet – and population – wrestling with itself and each other.
The evolving nature of the earth we live on is also captured in Dan Canham’s beautiful Ours was the Fen Country (★★★★). Choreography and movement is minimal, but when it comes, it feels just right. The rest of the time, we’re entertained and moved by verbatim theatre documenting the changing face of East Anglia’s fenlands.
Interviews conducted with residents of the area, workers who have farmed and fished on the land for decades, are delivered in a number of ways. Sometimes we just hear the recorded voice, sometimes one of the four performers delivers it, but best of all is when we hear the real voice, but see a performer lip-synch the words. Because these are real testimonies, inevitably the interviewees fall over words, repeat themselves, pause or speed up – yet every single word is lip-synched to perfection.
The tale behind a giant pole at the back of the stage, signifying how rapidly the fenlands are sinking below sea level, is particularly poignant. But, in a show of true balance, laughs are not in short supply.
Aware that not everybody wants to step inside a theatrical space, the large white structure sitting outside Dance Base is giving people another way to experience dance. The three films shown inside the Dance Dome (★★★) have each been shot specifically to deliver a 360˚ immersive cinematic experience.
Aerial work is used to create a kind of fantasy world in The Beautiful; a run-down urban environment is juxtaposed by picturesque Welsh landscape in parkour adventure, The Sublime; and Pal O’ Me Heart is a touching adaptation of Jamie O’Neill’s novel At Swim, Two Boys set against a background of early 20th-century Ireland.
In truth, the films are worthy of a superior screening space than the Dome (they’re often shown in planetariums) but what it loses in sharpness, the novelty value more than makes up for.
Ours Was the Fen Country until 25 August, today 9pm. Refugees of the Septic Heart until tomorrow, today 6pm. Stereoscopic Trilogy 2, today 11am. In-be-tween until tomorrow, today 5pm. Dance Dome until 26 August, today, every 45 mins from 11am until 9:30pm
Originally published in The Scotsman