International Festival of Edinburgh: Schottisches Ballett: My Light Shines On (online)

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Dancing Festival

Scottish Ballet: My Light is Shining On (online)

Four Sterne Stars

One click of the mouse – and the Scottish Ballet dancers are within sight. Captured on screen as part of the visionary, bold showcase of streamed performances of the Edinburgh International Festival that have transcended the limits of seclusion under the overarching title My Light Shines On.

The seven-short sequence of the Scottish Ballet includes the premiere of Catalyst (by company member Nicholas Shoesmith), alongside elements of the Digital Season of last year and newly recorded versions of pieces from the 2013 EIF Dance Odysseys curriculum. The blend of moods and styles highlights the professional flexibility of the artists, irrespective of the difficulties of, say, performing in the Kingston Bridge underpass (Frontiers) outdoors or running around as nimble waiters with silver salves of wobbly jelly (Tremble). But in the captured action, something else emerges: the camera takes us on journeys to new viewpoints, zooming in with close-ups and changing angles between the moving bodies that we simply wouldn’t reach in the stalls or in a circle from a static seat. An enticing familiarity lies therein – something the Multimedia Partnerships do so well, exploring Dance Odysseys (2013) at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre in small spaces.

The poignant place for Nicholas Shoesmith’s Trigger was the main stage of that theater. Poignant, because the auditorium was closed and eerily empty by itself…. We are reminded of this by the black face masks worn by all the dancers, even as the choreography conveys visions of spreading contagion. It starts with a lone man under a single sun, but his movements soon ripple in matching white vests and black pants through the selectively socially-distanced rows of bodies. No physical interaction occurs. And when the dancers stretch their arms longingly, like birds in flight, they seem rooted to their place. It’s a concise, evocative vignette – also a reminder of how Scottish ballet has retained its spirit, its skill, its creativity. Of course, one longs to see them live again, but as an appetizer for the future, this is an uplifting treat.

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