Friday, August 29, 2008

woe is my tardy blogging! (Edinburgh Day 6 update and Day 7)

So, after seeing the Dorian Gray, I went to the "Russian Riviera" themed Gilded Balloon Loft Bar to dance for several hours to the swing/hip-hop/drum 'n bass stylings of this duo:

The Correspondents

My first encounter with the two lovely chaps behind the irresistibly dance-inducing music was at a place called "Proud" in Camden. When my friend Dean suggested that we meet there I thought, "Wow! That sounds like a really horrible gay bar!" but it turned out to be much better than that (can you believe it? there are things, indeed, much, much, much better than that). It's a little gallery/gig space attached to a bar in a beautiful, converted stable. The stalls are still in tact, the ironwork is polished, everything is pristine (this is perhaps principally attributable to the newness of the place). I even danced barefoot! In a bar!

When I discovered that The Correspondents would be in Edinburgh during my sojourn there I knew I had to go to their gig. The bar in Edinburgh was a little strange - apparently a 'members only' place, though all I had to do to pretend membership was utter the name of the band (a secret password devised by someone really unimaginative?).

I didn't manage to get anyone to dance with me in a way that involved bodily contact...though I did enjoy a lot of shared space.

Speaking of dancing, bodily contact, and shared space - I am now in Findhorn and have just completed the third day of work with Deborah Hay. I will endeavor to write something intelligible about it later tonight.

Okay, on to Edinburgh Day 7.

My final day in Edinburgh I saw the remaining Czech companies at the festival and something really special that called into question for me the whole nature of what constitutes a performance.

Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre's WHEELS OF LIFE - an extraordinary array of mechanical creations accompanied by lights and music (Russian and Jewish folk songs and classical music) - creating a 'mechanical ballet' without any visible human involvement. The audience sits with binoculars to see the details of the machines. It's eerie and beautiful. There's no story, per se, though there are things like vignettes within each contraption. Each one is intensely personal for the artist, connected to a dimension of Russian and post-Soviet history (and the artist's specific experiences). The work has never - to my knowledge - toured to the States, where it would surely be of great interest to many.

Later that day I saw THE WEEPERS. ... (that ellipse is all I need to say about that performance) and then POLARIS, a stunning duet. Performed without words - though with a terrific auralscape - by two enchanting Czech actors, it's a story about two explorers stranded in the North Pole. The actors transform into seagulls, penguins, fish, glaciers - the entire environment in which these men are marooned. They relied extensively on blackouts - too much for my taste (hello! I can see you anyway!); but they had so won me over with their adroitness and heart that I forgave the uninspired use of blackouts by the end.

Now I'm in Findhorn at the end of my fourth day of work with Deborah Hay and a lovely group of 19 other dancers. I will endeavor to write something intelligible about our work in the coming days.



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