Screen.Dance – Scotland’s Festival of Dance

Originally set to take place in Edinburgh’s magnificently vibrant arts space Summerhall, Screen.Dance, Scotland’s Festival of Dance on Screen, will shift to an online format – presenting a digital programme from Friday 19th – Saturday 20th June. Drawing together dancers, choreographers, artists, film producers and musicians, the event will showcase work across the nation and beyond, forging unity from the local to national and international artists. 

Seeking to create a hybrid of enriched cinema, intersecting movement with image, this festival (unique to Scotland) presents a programme of forty-two short films which from across the globe, with a focus on movement & dance. More than a simple series of curated pieces of choreography, films will hone on the discussions, debates, and conversations on the relationships between filmmaking, dance, activism, and social justice with a programme traversing gender, race, disability and social, economic and political issues.

Hosted by The Works Room Glasgow and the European maPs project from Paris, Screen.Dance will be streaming programmes located in a specific area of their website, with presentations and films beginning from 11 am, Friday 19th June. With support from Film Hub Scotland, the festival will include two world premieres; Navigation by Marlene Millar and Floor Falls by Abby Warrilow, and Jennifer Patterson; a newly commissioned one-minute dance film supported by Creative Scotland.

On the subject of the festival, Screen.Dance Festival Artistic Director Simon Fildes said:

“It’s been so exciting to be able to work with the team at Summerhall, and move the apt genre of Screen.Dance, online. We are incredibly honoured to bring together work from Scotland and the UK, alongside work from countries such as Canada, China, India, and the USA; connecting award-winning artists and audiences to dance and digital...

Alongside films, presentations and discussions, we are delighted to have been able to commission work under the new one minute Screen.Dance commissioning scheme, produced by the company GO/AT, showcasing our commitment to supporting Scottish artists to make high quality work that can be exhibited in a competitive international platform showcase.”

Additionally, Screen.Dance Associate Curator Iliyana Nedkova discussed the programmes representation and variety in genre:

“We are so excited to be continuing to curate and programme work across the Screen.Dance genre – bringing together incredible artists, choreographers, dancers, film-makers and musicians...

 We are proud that the two world premieres this year make up the fact that the programme sees 50:50 gender representation, as we continue to push to bring a mix of artists from across fields into the spotlight.”

For more information, including access to the full programme & films please visit Screen Dance: www.screen.dance

Connect with Screen.dance over social media: Instagram, Facebook & Twitter

Balletboyz Deluxe – Festival Theatre

Bradley 4:18 Choreography by Maxine Doyle

Ripples Choreography by Xie Xin

Returning to Edinburgh after a successful run at the Festival Fringe, BalletBoyz performs their current Deluxe tour, which sees two productions back-to-back. Aiming to demonstrate the all-male troupe’s ability, Deluxe introduces audiences to two different shows from considerably esteemed choreographers. 

Sacrificing their traditional essence of grace, with an image more connecting with that of masculinity, BalletBoyz loses an integral part of their charm with Maxine Doyle’s production Bradley 4:18. Risks are vital, they maintain freshness, and the intent of injecting headbanging, blood-infused brawl of aggression, mayhem and mischief doesn’t fall foul on all fronts, it’s divisive for the audience. Some will feel confusion, others intrigue, but suspicions rise many more will find disappointment. 

Bradley 4:18 is distractingly literal, too physical to feel like authentic movement, instead conjuring the image of rehearsal. The choreography is less dance, more drunk West Side Story. Set in the early hours of the morning, the troupe perform the various situations one can find themselves within, the fights, the stumbles home and the ravenous hunger. It’s all coding, in a performance which seems to be relying on allegorical symbolism for the distinction some have between masculine traits and ballet. The issue is that the piece isn’t as technically capable as they desire, nor is it as rough footed as they want to communicate. 

There couldn’t be a more significant difference between Bradley 4:18 and BalletBoyz’ following piece Ripple. Where the layout of the previous piece had an obvious structure, which grinds against the technique of the dance, Ripple presents parable, tying suggestion to the movement, incorporating storytelling into the emotion. Xie Xin showcases the exceptional ability of the group, hypnotically capturing the fluidity of change through her gorgeous choreography. In the opening short film, she discusses the struggles of dealing with a troupe of male dancers, feeling that the energy levels of a mixture would result in a better dynamic, how the boys prove her wrong. 

Casting their forms into whirlpools, gentle bends of the river and dribbles of sudden, soothing flow – Ripple is a tremendous showcase. Capturing the essence of a base element is a signature profile of choreographed movement; with fire and air being relatively straight forward. Water has a distinction in its state, it’s shifting patterns, and Xin conveys this transformative property into the boys – who in turn, alter their being accordingly to morph into the shapeless mass of water. 

Technically, there is little to fault the BalletBoyz for, indeed their strength and talent are evident in the lifts, twists and peak ability on display. Where they falter, is the communicative ambition of the first piece, which misses the mark on what we associate with the company yet fails to offer a unique diversity to explain this distancing. Ripple, however, is nearly worth the ticket alone with its sensational depth of skill, and expertise to marry raw masculinity with elegance in a touching manner.

For touring information, please visit BalletBoyz at: https://www.balletboyz.com/whatson

Rambert – Festival Theatre

Artistic Director: Benoit Swan Pouffer

A dancer’s ability stretches beyond the confines of simple movement, as storytellers, a superbly talented dancer is also a crafter of narrative. At times, the lack of a voice has drawbacks, but Rambert (in particular) excels in the extraordinary, the delicate marriage of movement and tale. A trio of performances, which couldn’t be more different if they tried, each evoke particular emotional responses – whether this is the waving bursts of Presentient, the righteous indignation of In Your Rooms, or the headbanging preservation with Rogues. Whichever you prefer, Rambert once again demonstrates their keen ability to go beyond movement, and into artistry.

Tight, claustrophobic and a relentless assault of choreography, Presentient transforms the Rambert dancers into a wave of mobile syntaxes, a grown-up Sesame Street if you will. Certainly, the most ethereal, Wayne McGregor’s choreography ebbs and flows with the soundscape, manifesting an intense wall of billowing movement. There’s a sense of continuous movement, unnervingly so, as the dancers retract into a tight-knit group. Cast against Lucy Carter’s lighting design, otherworldly yet complimenting the soft pastels of Ursula Bombshell’s costumes – Presentient is a furrowing piece which feels held back by its inability to move outside of its confines.

Sandwiching between the opener and closing performance, Marion Motin’s Rogue strides ahead as a significantly brutal, mesmeric piece of movement. When the husk we clad ourselves in burns away, removing material possessions, our shields and homes, what sort of person is left behind – and what does it take to survive? Rouge, with echoes of the horrors of Grenfell, feels the most tangible of the triple bill, it’s metaphorical contexts grounded in Yann Seabra’s costume design, accelerating perception of the dancer’s proposed character.

Visceral, Motin’s choreography ensures a sense of fatigue, though far from an issue, this is the purpose of the piece. Every stretch of muscle, each collapse and push for the dancers to communicate a sense of ‘carrying on’ is visible. That when the world around you collapses, we find this primal resource to survive, our biological machines working to the fullest to the beating rhythm behind us.

If Micka Luna’s composition doesn’t evoke memories of long, regretful but exhilarating nights out, or push you back into the club-scene check your pulse. The rhythmic thrashing ensnares spectators, drawn to the pulsing movements as they march, drum and drop into the smouldering shadows. In pace with not only the dancers, Judith Leray’s lighting is also an assault on the senses, commanding our attention and conjuring a refusal to look away.

Control is the name of the game with Hofesh Shechter’s closing production of In Your Rooms, or rather, the lack of controlMuch of the Shechter’s lively choreography feels alien, distant to the audience, but glimmers with emotional recognition. Quite often we see these repetitious patterns bubble over in select performers, their physicality broken and overburdened as they leap sporadically, or crumple into the mess laying around them. The only piece with a voice-over, noting the building blocks of the universe and how he can comically; ‘do better’, it adds an extra element to the dynamic, though overstays by a minute or two.

Narrative is key for artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer’s vision of Rambert’s triple bill. Above tight choreography, which is a given, Puffer’s desire for dancers with a purpose behind the talent, and ability to stand as both form and storyteller is evident, is part of Rambert’s issue here. Singularly, there is no fault in the movement, nor inherently with the pieces, instead, the flow staggers as two productions sit overshadowed by their middle sibling, detaching them from our expectations.

Review published for The Reviews Hub: https://www.thereviewshub.com/rambert-festival-theatre-edinburgh/

Photo Credit: Johan Persson