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Dance this week: the Fringe

Posted on August 1, 2011

balletruseisabellemeisterThe Edinburgh Fringe has started! It sprang up around Edinburgh’s International Festival, and has mushroomed past its official parent, becoming the largest arts festival in the world. For the next three weeks, performances will be squeezed into venues all across the city, from churches and tents to front rooms and even conventional theatres. This year’s Fringe is the biggest yet, cramming in 2,542 events in genres from comedy to circus.

UPDATE: Due to illness, performances of What the Folk! have been cancelled. The company hope to return for Fringe 2012.

Several venues specialise in dance. Dance Base, the National Centre for Dance, has beautiful studios, sprung floors and a good track record in picking performers. There’s a strong Irish theme to this year’s programme, which includes the National Folk Theatre of Ireland in What the Folk!, a look at Irish dance performed in the artists’ home. (The venue is up some steep steps, but they promise tea and cake.) Other shows include The Ballet Ruse (pictured), a comedy in which two aspiring ballerinas pursue their dreams to a soundtrack from Tchaikovsky to Lady Gaga.

 

There’s a strong programme at Zoo Venues, including dance theatre company Chickenshed and Agnes and Walter (A Little Love Story), a physical theatre piece inspired by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

 

Assembly, one of the mainstream powerhouse venues at the Fringe, has several big dance and physical theatre shows this year, including circus, traditional Korean dance in Korean Drum – Journey of a Soul and Rock the Ballet, starring former Dance Theatre of Harlem dancer Rasta Thomas. Streetdance stars Flawless are at The Pleasance, another juggernaut venue, with their new show Intergalactic Dream.

 

There’s a clutch of dance shows at C Venues. Ricardo Garcia’s Flamenco Flow perform a range of shows aimed at different audiences, from Flamenco for Brunch to Flamenco Jazz Nights, while The Lincoln Company’s triple bill promises everything from lobotomies to the fall of Newton’s apple.

 

Greenside, a venue set in gardens, opens its dance programme with JMUpstart Dance Company in Any More Legroom, an eclectic mix of dance works, and Richard, a Japanese reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Richard III. At their own venues, Dondeduendes and Fringe favourites Alba Flamenca both offer flamenco throughout the Fringe.

 

You can also join the dance yourself. Award-winning Canadian theatre company bluemouth inc’s Dance Marathon is inspired by the endurance contests of the Depression. Brave audience members can join the performers, under the direction of floor judges, until one triumphant couple is declared the winner. In October, this production will transfer to the Barbican in London as part of Dance Umbrella.

 

For a more straightforward dance experience, learn foxtrot and Charleston basics with Tea Dance at The Pleasance, then enjoy dancing and cocktails in the Palm Court atmosphere. For Scottish country dancing, try Ceilidhs at Lauriston Hall, with all dances walked through and called. No stiletto heels, though – they’re proud of their floor.

 

Picture: The Ballet Ruse. Photograph: Isabelle Meister. 

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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