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Akram leads the dance as curtain falls on one-off show

The second, and for this year final, Herald Angel awards this morning comprehensively cover the gamut of possible recipients of our coveted winged trophies.

Today they are sponsored by Edinburgh's Napier University, whose Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrea M Nolan, said: "Edinburgh Napier University is proud to be supporting The Herald Angels and to recognise the outstanding achievement of the performers, venues and backstage crew which help make Edinburgh the world's festival capital."

From the International Festival programme we award our Archangel this week to dancer and choreographer Akram Khan, whose revival of Gnosis, specially for this year's event, only received one full performance, on Tuesday, because of an injury to his guest collaborator, Taiwanese dancer Fang-Yi Sheu.

Those lucky enough to be there on the opening night of the short EIF run witnessed the last ever outing for Khan's Mahabharata-inspired piece, a decade after he brought another acclaimed work, ma, to the Festival. The British Asian choreographer has an informed foot in two cultures: the classical Indian style of Kathak, which he started learning as a seven-year old, and contemporary dance, which he trained in after a lengthy stint touring with Peter Brook in the British director's version of the ancient story - which famously launched Glasgow's cultural renaissance in the run-up to 1990.

Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe receives a Herald Angel, having been a crucial resident artist of the Festival's music programme. He and his exquisitely-balanced choir, Collegium Vocale Gent, sang Lassus in the Greyfriar's Kirk series, a popularly re-instated facet of this year's programme, and then appeared at the Usher Hall with their associated period instrument ensemble for Bach's B-Minor Mass, before finally teaming up with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and four British soloists for a programme of Haydn, Bruckner and Stravinsky.

The NZ at Edinburgh programme has brought to Edinburgh the largest contingent of New Zealand artists the country has ever exported. Among them are Angel-winners Black Grace. Choreographed by Neil Ieremia, they are - as described by our dance critic Mary Brennan - "five men and three women, all superbly honed, toned and totally focussed on clean lines, rhythm and precision".

She is looking forward to seeing some of their full-length work and suggests Scotland welcomes Black Grace back soon, and not just to the Fringe.

Playwright Clara Brennan (no relation) wrote Spine as a 20-minute drama in 2012 as part of Theatre Uncut on the Fringe. It caught our theatre critic Neil Cooper's eye back then and he was even more impressed by the hour-long expansion of it that is playing the Underbelly. The title comes in part from the set of shelves of hard-back tomes, where Rosie Wyatt gives a ferocious performance as Amy, who comes into the orbit of an unseen older woman. The play charts "her accidental getting of wisdom and the call to arms for people power in the action that follows" said Cooper, adding that Brennan, Wyatt and director Bethany Pitts have together produced "a vital piece of theatre about the right to knowledge and the power of community in the face of access to both being annexed by the over-privileged few."

Shona Reppe and Andy Manley's HUFF, a theatre design installation for those aged eight and over at the Traverse, is part of the Made in Scotland programme on the Fringe and a delightful interactive experience that creates the world of the story of the Three Pigs, their differently-constructed homes and the pursuing, exhaling wolf. It is intricate, immersive, beautifully imagined with video and audio elements, and very funny.

Not in the recently-added musical element of that showcase was the annual concert by fiddler Chris Stout and harpist Catriona McKay at St Andrew and St Georges on George Street. This year's event included music from Seavaigers, the acclaimed piece written for them and the Scottish Ensemble by Sally Beamish, in which the pair's virtuosity more than made up for the absence of the strings in a performance that confirmed the duo's place at the front rank of Scotland's most adventurous musicians.

The final Herald Angel of the week goes to the Outhouse venue in Edinburgh's Barony Street Lane, a hidden gem of a home for live music that is well known to the Fringe cognoscenti. The programme there this year included regular visitors Barbara Morrison and Lillian Boutte as well as the new addition of the calypso-flavoured jazz saxophone of Arturo Tappin.

With the winner of our Wee Cherub to the best of the reviewers who were published as part of our Young Critics project in Edinburgh schools with the International Festival under wraps until this morning, our Little Devil this week goes to Louisa Adamson, production manager of The God That Comes, by Canada's 2b Theatre Company. The show's director Christian Barry tells us that Louisa made three trips to Edinburgh in advance of the show's arrival to develop the perfect plan for a technically hugely-complex production and daily coaches a team of seven technicians through the set-up to enable performer Hawksley Workman to replicate a full rock band. Louisa has also had to turn her hand to fixing a broken guitar pickup, re-stringing guitars, re-building a short-circuited lighting fixture, replacing a blown transformer, and overcoming mild electrocution. "And she does it all with grace and a smile," he says.

www.herald-events.com/heraldangels

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