Traditional Aborigine music performed by one man on didgeridoo, guitar and vocals, alongside dramatic lighting and smoke effects creates the backdrop to the first performance, Breathe. The dancers writhe and contort their bodies effortlessly creating twisting shapes and images that feel both ethereal and elemental. Their dance reflects the music, using dust and sheets of white silk as the only props. This, combined with their ragged, earthy costumes, creates the idea that they are the earth breathing, feeling like the unsettled atmosphere before thunder. As they roll and tumble over each other slowly and purposefully, it’s like the rolling clouds of a storm.
Festival made Easy
Features and Reviews
The Mariinsky Ballet’s Edinburgh debut is a fairytale for dance fans, not least because its opulent production, choreographed by former Bolshoi director Alexei Ratmansky, brings the classic Cinderella story into a 21st-century world. Words Kelly Apter
“Alexei is unique, as a person and as a choreographer,” says Mariinsky director, Yuri Fateyev. “He created Cinderella especially for us, which was a huge privilege.”
'Lunatic' performer Camille O'Sullivan may have lost the fishnets, but she’s staying close to the edge with her take on Shakespearean rape, lust and politics. Words Isobel PalmerRead more...
It’s earth-shattering news for at least half of Camille O’Sullivan's fans. She's giving up wearing fishnets. Fishnet stockings that is – and an unforgettable part of her vintage, figure-hugging stage persona that has been so central to building an international reputation as a sexy chanteuse.
But it has to be done, she says with a laugh, because her mother says it’s time. And dramatic singer O’Sullivan may be 37 and incapable, it would appear, of failing in any challenge she takes on, but she has to listen to her Parisian mother.
In the dance village of Nrityagram, students live solely to dance. It is therefore a great privilege to be able to see this community, who practice from dawn to dusk to achieve perfection, in the flesh, and in our fair city.
Difficult, unsparing, almost deliberately oblique, Drought and Rain delivers an hour and some of music and dance theatre that feels at least double that. As an exploration of the Vietnam War through the eyes of people that lived through it, it is undoubtedly flawed, failing to find much tension or even emotional connection to the conflict. However, it is not without its shining moments.
Bound by the efforts of director Tim Supple, the Lebanese novelist Hanan al-Shaykh, nineteen actors and five musicians, One Thousand and One Nights is an enterprise within itself that makes for a glorious three hours of storytelling one cannot help but delight in hearing.
Rarely does one see an unforgettable performance, let alone at the hands of a ninety-one-year-old maestro, but this evening of music from Ravi Shankar was just that: absolutely exceptional.
Where to start? This production by the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe, performing what is essentially Hamlet in traditional Jingju style, initially intrigues then becomes breathtaking, deeply moving and well deserving of its audience’s standing ovation.
Mark Fisher takes a look at the opera programme at this year's International Festival
Purists, be warned: This ain’t your mama’s Shakespeare. Presented in three acts, of which only the second loosely follows the traditional text, Wu Hsing-kuo’s presents a radical rendition of the beloved King Lear.
The Peony Pavilion is one of the most iconic love stories in Chinese literature, a deeply romantic tale of the power of love to conquer death. Featuring Fei Bo’s sensuous choreography, this production from the National Ballet of China brings to the Festival Theatre not only a ballet corps of over 50 dancers and its resident symphony orchestra, but an evening of exquisite storytelling and symbolically laden drama.
There is a surfeit of Shakespeare in translation at this year’s International Festival, with Chinese productions of King Lear and The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan, an adapted version of Hamlet. However, one of the most visually arresting, and surely the most fun, is Korean company Mokwha Repertory’s The Tempest.
The Qatsi trilogy is a series of wordless films about the destruction of landscape by Godfrey Reggio. Here, the films are accompanied by their musical scores performed live by the Phillip Glass Ensemble, and conducted by Michael Reisman on keyboards throughout. I sat overwhelmed, the imagery and acoustic reverberating to create a palpable tingle.
Flamenco guitarist Paco Peña unites Spanish and African music and dance in Quimeras, a celebration of immigration and shared cultures. A group of Ghanaians moving to Spain suffer exclusion and persecution on arrival, but cling to their national dances for identity. Initially each nationality performs independently, but the show gradually blends the two until everyone dances together to the rhythm of African drums and Spanish guitar.
Mixing theatre and cinema, Sin Sangre is an impressive combination of the two art forms, but not one that helps tell the story. Adapted from a novella by Alessandro Baricco, it begins during the Chilean civil war and looks at the violence and vengeance that occurred under Pinochet. Three men kill a doctor for war crimes at his forest hide-out, but they leave his young daughter alive. Years later, one of the men meets the girl and, as they tell their life stories, a break in the cycle of violence becomes a possibility.
In a colourful production featuring a cast of dozens, the age of multimedia together with the Opera de Lyon adapt themselves to Gershwin’s classic folk opera portraying the lives of the inhabitants of Catfish Row.
Hemingway – boring, dry and overly obsessed with masculine pursuits? If this sums up your opinion on the works of the man they called ‘Papa’, this new production of The Sun Also Rises by the Elevator Repair Service will do little to dispel that conclusion.
Step it up at one of the dazzling dance performances around the city this month. Kelly Apter leads you through the options.
If you think that the Royal Bank of Scotland caused the country’s greatest economic disaster, you’d be forgetting your history, says Alistair Beaton.Read more...
For politicians, Alistair Beaton is a man to be wary of. The Glasgow-born writer has a dangerous reputation for producing satirical send-ups of the great and the good. He was the man behind The Trial of Tony Blair, the Channel 4 film in which Robert Lindsay played a prime minister struggling to face up to the legacy of war in Iraq. One commentator called the BAFTA-nominated drama a “vindictive fantasy”.
Working together as a family is just as important as the sheer joy of movement for the passionate Grupo Corpo, Brazil’s original contemporary dance troupe.