Fringe Dance

A Snowball’s Chance in Hell

C, Chambers Street

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five stars

Mind-Goblin

Dance Base

four stars

TUTU:Dance in All its Glory

Pleasance Courtyard

three stars

Mary Brennan

DENMARK'S Don Gnu are back, with another fine episode of their idiosyncratic “slap-dance”, a stylistic concoction where looning around and falling over suddenly morphs into quick, slick duets full of athletic panache. Last year Jannik Elkær (Don) and Kristoffer Louis Andrup Pedersen (Gnu) harked back to the 70’s for M.I.S – all night long, where socks, sandals and odd-ball games-play became the defining stuff of masculinity. With A Snowball’s Chance in Hell, they’ve looked to the 1920’s and silent films for an adventure into brinkmanship, tinged with the fear of failure but – like that naive snowball – still hoping to confound expectations of doom and disaster.

In part, this is a love letter to early cinema and the comedic greats like Laurel and Hardy, whose silent clowning is referenced on-screen in the pastiche films (by Cristoffer Brekner) and on-stage, superbly, by Elkaer and Pederson in bouts of knockabout rivalry ripe with the physical schtick that was laugh-out-loud a century ago and is timelessly funny still. There is, however, a poignant side to their relationship, an unspoken bond that keeps them in step when dancing at full tilt, with what one of the on-screen captions hails as “a curious poetic spirit...” Clever, classy and a hoot to boot.

Runs until August 28

EXORCISM shape-shifts into a kind of acceptance in Mind-Goblin, a tour-de-force of stamina and unstinting physicality from the award-winning Korean dancer and choreographer, Lee Kyung-Eun. Afterwards, you might notice that this blistering performance only lasts 30 minutes but during Kyung-Eun’s shamanistic encounter with her inner demons you’re drawn into a zone that is governed by whatever is possessing her. Her fingers flutter down over her limbs, as if dowsing for those forces that make her body twitch, wrench, become rigidly immobile. Is it her, or that wayward spirit inside her, that shouts out across the clattering, swooshing soundscape? What seems like a raging battle is, in fact, a truce in progress. As the small, slight, androgynous figure speeds round the space, the black “bile” that represents negative energies spills out of her mouth. Has she got rid of her mind-goblin? Better still, she’s harnessed it to her creative impulses and devised a performance of intense, sometimes alarming power.

Runs until August 27

WHAT'S not to spoof? Well when the lads of Chicos Mambo are on-stage in TUTU:Dance in All its Glory, everything from Swan Lake’s cygnets to Pina Bausch’s elegantly drifting ladies in ball gowns is fair game, as is a Strictly competitive samba or the ribbon-twirling gymnasts in heavily sequinned leotards. All this, and more, is grist to the mill of French choreographer Philippe Lafeuille who sees burlesque possibilities in all shades of dance. His ideas are blessed by a six-pack of male talent who are unfazed by some of his sillier camp excesses – men in fluffy nappies bumbling to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring begs the question “why?” When given the chance to dance, these guys are seriously good. The moments of actual pointe-work have real grace to them, while Julien Mercier astounds by combining skills and pirouetting on one toe while spinning rapidly on an aerial strap. But then they, and we, are back to the daft costumes, the mugging and the reliance on low comedy that feels like a let-down: burlesque ballerinas don’t have to act the buffoon to please us.

Runs until August 28