Edinburgh International Festival, Dancing in the Streets, four stars


Edinburgh International Festival Dance, Dancing in the Streets, four stars, Mary Brennan

Interlocks. Empty streets. Of course, no one dances there. So there is something poignant and uplifting about the four shorts commissioned by the FEI under the generic title Dancing in the Streets – from choreographers working in Edinburgh, Rio, Lebanon and Soweto where context and location are intrinsic to movement.

Over the months and seasons, Janice Parker filmed her daily solos in Holyrood Park, combining her spontaneous episodes of running, jumping, rolling and stretching with an ever deepening awareness of nature – and movement – in as basic and nourishing benefits for body and soul. His little acts of hope and lament – juxtaposed on a tripartite screen – saw Parker (63) react to his surroundings with immediacy, this choreographed performance deviated from the body. It was simply an inspiring reminder of the “dance” we all have within us, whether or not confined.

“Chronicles of Life and Dance”, choreographed by Alice Ripoli, was akin to a video diary where the dancers talked about their life in the favelas of Rio between explosions of exuberant and rapid virtuosity rooted in the Passinho style that characterizes neighborhoods and tells them more or less who you are and where you are from. Locked inside, their words and gestures brought street life into the frame, a living witness to dance as a lifeline in a society full of gangs, drugs and police violence.

Trois solos Trois questions, by Lebanese choreographer Omar Rajeh, are turned against the dereliction left by the explosion of 2020 in Beirut. There is a real sense of pain and bewilderment in the three bodies which, one after another, twist and tremble as they move among the rubble. No answer emerges, but these remarkable dancers force you to wonder what happened to their city.

Gregory Maqoma’s Retrace-Retract takes a look at South Africa, and Soweto in particular, with sly humor alongside fiery, fast-paced episodes of the township’s Pantsula dance moves – but the spoken text gets to the heart of the issues political and social disturbances in the country, making every dance in the streets a living declaration of cultural and personal identity. The one that cannot be locked out or ignored.


Darcy J. Skinner

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