FRINGE DANCE

Pan

Assembly Hall

Loading article content

FOUR STARS

Under Flat Sky/ Edge of Nowhere

Dance Base

FOUR STARS

Last Man Standing

Zoo Southside

THREE STARS

The Bad Arm: Confessions of a Dodgy Irish Dancer

Gilded Balloon

THREE STARS

Pact with Pointlessness

Dance Base

FOUR STARS

Ponies don’t play football

Dance Base

FOUR STARS

Mary Brennan

Charm really defines Pan, part of the Korean Season on this year’s Fringe. The costumes alone take the breath away: rainbows of bright-hued silks that swish past in a gauzy whisper. There’s not even a whisper, however, from the dancers’ feet as they glide by in their soft-soled shoes. The effect is a mix of delicacy and grandeur but also of ancient and modern, especially when Korean instruments and melodic forms meet Western orchestrations. Maybe, in former times, women wouldn’t have had the upper hand in wielding swords, daggers or mighty drumsticks but here, their graceful dexterity impresses:blades flash in ritual dance moves, and the drumming – when the lone man in the company joins in the wall of rhythmic sound – has real complexity as well as volume. It’s a sumptuous-looking show, but Pan – it means “festival” – is no empty pageant: its plea for peace and harmony touches the heart in a world where that hope seems as fragile as the butterfly wings of the dancers before us.

(until August 31)

Look deep between the lines of Silke Mansholt’s projected landscapes in Under Flat Sky and you’ll see two female dancers, embedded live in the drawings. Words will flit onto the screen, poetically wistful with loss and longing as is the music that drifts in like a remembered perfume. The whole is akin to a series of many-layered haiku: exquisite, haunting. Composer/choreographer Billy Cowie’s second piece – Edge of Nowhere – is whimsy with a metaphysical wink. Indian dancer Rajyashree Ramamurthi divulges incidents from her own past that reveal an impish curiosity, and a self-willed streak. Even as we chuckle, Mansholt’s sketch-pad drawings melt into more abstract imagery, Cowie’s music and choreography take on cadences of Odissi tradition and Ramamurthi dances with an expressive vitality that brings home to her – and us – how art can feed into the very centre of our being.

(until August 30)

Forget Monteverdi. Forget Gluck. Choreographer James Wilton chooses, instead, the progressive alternative metal of US rock band Tool for Last Man Standing, his take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. It pummels the ears, but it does bring a thrumming edge to the legend. Part One shows Eurydice (literally) slipping through Orpheus’s fingers even as Death, with tick-tock pendulum arms. dictates that time is running out. Other dancers start dropping to the floor – presaging the inevitable, despite shows of breakdance prowess. Part Two delivers shadowlands: bodies roll like ripples on the River Styx, Eurydice is lifeless... There’s a tense capoeira turn to the contest between Orpheus and Death, but it’s in the closing solo for Sarah Jane Taylor, as a re-awakening Eurydice that Wilton really demonstrates an instinct for choreography that has drama and truth as opposed to facile histrionics.

(until August 31)

With hindsight, that “bad arm” of Maire Clerkin’s was really her inner rebel waving to the world. Unfortunately Clerkin’s mother was the doyenne of Irish Dance teachers in 1970’s London: young Maire’s failure to control her wayward right arm was a visible betrayal of family, heritage, work ethic... It’s ideal stuff for a roguishly comedic monologue of memories that nonetheless extends beyond the personal to a more general evocation of the times. Born London-Irish, Clerkin pithily conveys the trials of being caught between two cultures – at home in neither and suspect in both. Rorty teenage years, a desperate yen to meet her mother’s expectations – there’s a lot we can all identify with in The Bad Arm. And when Clerkin puts on her dancing shoes, her feet twinkle as merrily as the humour she stamps on that racketty past

(until August 31)

Words tumble out of Wendy Houstoun’s mouth – sometimes punning, sometimes going into freefall associations, often seeming to be pointless musing aloud but then jigsawing into what she herself calls “the big questions”. Behind her, on a screen, words run like ticker-tape: she herself will run in circles, try variations on counts and steps, chattering as if there was a void to fill or everything would just crash and shut down like... like the technology behind her solo Pact With Pointlessness. What’s to be done? Re-boot the computer, re-start the questioning, keep going until your very being packs up and there’s no point in pretending that that won’t happen. Till then, there’s stuff. Words. Dance-y bits. Do or die, you know. Better do whatever while you can. A pact. An hour packed with idiosyncratic energies and some very wily philosophy.

(until August 30)

Irish pranksters Ponydance don’t play football – but they have other choice and cheesy games up their sleeves. Ummm. There are no sleeves in a bra and briefs. Never mind. Scanty outfits don’t faze the Ponies. Too much clothing would get in the way of dance-tastic routines, and spoil the tongue-in-cheek raunch that adds hilarity to their take on girly floor-shows.The boys in the live band even get in on that act: phwoar! When it comes to comedy, this bunch shoot from the twerking hip and score laughs at every turn.

(until August 30)