Author: Christine Richard OBE FRSA

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Sunday, August 21st, 2016 at 5:04 pm
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Show Reviews

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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