S/He Nancy Joe

Zoo Southside

Five stars

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Dance Derby

Paterson's Land

Five stars

Smashed

Assembly Hall

Five stars

Most of us, when we start contemplating the navel of our own identity, do not have the added conflict of feeling we are in the wrong body.

Performer Mirenka Chechove - whose S/He Nancy Joe is part of an outstanding Czech Dance Showcase at Zoo venues - takes on that issue of 'body as battleground' with a solo show that evokes the confusion that clouds growing up and is graphically forthright about the options (including surgery) that offer no easy solutions to transgender adults.

Graphically, this show extends beyond Chechova's own expressive command of dance styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop. For behind her, on huge screens, runs a frame-by-frame comic strip where the context of her quest 'just to be me' unfolds in images that never shy away from using humour as a vehicle for profound hurt or humiliation.

Chechova's researches opened up a wealth of creative responses: these, in turn, open our eyes - and hearts - to those who feel trapped in a skin that lies.

Run ended

Company Chordelia and Scottish Opera again join forces with a co-production that is not just a follow-up to the hugely successful Seven Deadly Sins, it is like a companion piece. For in Dance Derby director/choreographer Kally Lloyd Jones returns to Depression-era America and the poverty that drove people to destructive extremes, in hope of earning a few dollars.

Her dance marathon pulls out a lot of thoroughly-researched stops. There is a razzy-jazzy live band, a glamorous on-stage chantoosie (Nadine Livingstone) and an oily tyrant of an MC (Harry Ward) who keeps the five dancing couples on their competitive toes as the unrelenting hours - make that days and weeks - take their toll.

Bit by bit, the individually touching stories surface even as bodies wilt and hopes of the $1000 prize fade. By the end, even the winners are losers ... and you surely wish you had never laughed at their plight.

Beyond the surface panache of Lloyd Jones's hectic, driven dance-drama there is a beautifully wrought landscape of public humiliations and private griefs that reach beyond our entertainment to a cruel reality that is maybe not so bygone as we would like to think.

Everyone goes for broke, acting and dancing with a fierce integrity that truly honours those long ago contenders.

Until August 26

It is in the slow processional walk on stage, men in dapper suits and the women in dressy frocks. It is in the vase of pink carnations, the deadpan absurdity of everyday cups and saucers becoming the stuff of power-plays and it is in the deep inhaling of a lit ... apple!

Because all the loving nods to the late Pina Bausch - a determined chain smoker and tinglingly subversive choreographer - are linked into the apple-passing prowess of Gandini Juggling.

Words can't really catch the speed, precision, quirks and intricacies of what Sean Gandini and his insouciantly dexterous compadres do in Smashed.

But as a homage to Bausch, and a bravura entertainment for all ages, this is a juicy treat from first bite to its mid-air core.

Until August 26