Scottish Ballet (but not as we know it)

As part of the Edinburgh International Festival a very ‘off the wall’ performance in two halves was unlike anything many of the audience, and indeed critics and reviewers, had witnessed before; not your typical Scottish Ballet offering!

Up first, MC14/22 (Ceci est mon corps) was depicted as the Last Supper by a large cast of very athletic male dancers. First performed by Ballet Poeijocaj at the Avignon Festival 15 years ago, the producers contend it still has contemporary parallels with recent horrific events in, for example, the murder of an 85 year old Priest in the Normandy town of St-Etienne-due Vouvray. Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director of Scottish Ballet, was very keen to make this connection.

I am not certain this was clear to the audience, although there were extensive notes in the programme. The 12 men were certainly energetic and gave a fast-moving performance. At times it was brutal. Particularly the winding of very strong sticky tape bound round one of the characters by another, prior to the former being brutally attacked was certainly gripping. It was not for me (and nor was the laughter from a few members of the audience).

Described as a ‘hymn to the male body, glorifying masculinity and a condemnation of force, the paradox was the force portrayed. The lighting and sound were brutal but the provocative nature of the work was impossible to ignore. In this respect the work clearly achieved its objective. Enjoyment? Perhaps not. Admiration for the quality of the movement? Yes.

The ballet was staged by Hope Buir and Eric Beauchesne and choreographer Crystal Pite carried on the thesis in this production.

After the interval, the second offering described as ‘The Art of Synchrony – Emergence’ first appeared given by the National Ballet of Canada in 2009. I should have liked this second half to last for longer. Again, technically, it was hard to find fault

The philosophy behind this was the director’s theory that groups of people, en masse, become like insects and scuttle around together. In fact it was relatively simple to observe how this might work. The meaning behind the skilled dance performance I found interesting and again the quality of the dancing was excellent. The Choreographer, Crystal Pite, could successfully claim to have proved her theory

In summary, it was a daring and at times provocative programme which Scottish Ballet can be rightly praised for using dance to bring a very different look to the conventional perspective of the more gentle aspects of ballet. This totally different work exemplifies Festival Director Fergus Linehan’s  sense of adventure.

Festival Theatre 18-20 August

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Christine Richard OBE FRSA Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.

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