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EIF Dance Review: L.A. Dance Project

Playhouse, Edinburgh

Four stars

To make your debut - as Benjamin Millepied's seven-strong company did last September - with works by Cunningham and Forsythe - is to hit the ground sprinting like Usain Bolt. As for opening the programme with your own choreography - well why not? Millepied didn't need the film Black Swan to put his creativity on the map, and even if his work is eclipsed (as happens here) by that of two legendary dance-makers, the 'cause and effect' interaction that flowed between bodies in Moving Parts was easy on the eye. The interaction between those bodies and the moving screens, however, became tiresome. Where were the Rodarte costumes with the 'go-faster' stripes that would have jostled with the jazzy-jumbled alphabets covering the screens?

Merce Cunningham's Winterbranch provoked heated reactions when first seen - or almost seen - in 1964. The prevailing mirk that clothes the entire stage - pierced by occasional sweeps of light that don't necessarily show the dancers - still has the power to alienate some. There were boos. But others cheered. It's as if ghosts had crept out of the brick-work, to crumple into the dust - echoes of our own transitory time in the light. The soundscore by La Monte Young invites the ears to bleed. Finally, Forythe's Quintett, and an exquisite witness to the calibre of Millepied's dancers as they wheeled and flitted to Gavin Bryars's music.They lapsed into mode balletic and then whirled out into playful ecstasies as an old man quavered the spiritual Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet. In 1993, this was a tribute to Forsythe's wife who was dying of cancer. Twenty years on, it fills the stage with life-affirming energies and defiant joy.

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