Contemporary : Arts Printing House

Zoo (Sanctuary)

5th – 20th August


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Located in an old church at the Pleasance, this show was made for this environment. Dance and Theatre comblending in such an angelic space can only add to the occasion.  We begin… darkness is thrown aside and sporadic light emerges, three figures appearing, cocooned in posture. Then romanesque, statue-like, Tuscan-sculptured bodies are brought into life & into dance and into movement. Birth & growth, their shape and positions transfix you. Silhouetted against a dark background they expose you to a collision of thoughts. Lying in the fetus position, while twitching and constricting, they produced a beautiful, yet spooky sense of emotion. A most exhilarating experience.

With a sudden BANG! The show changes direction. An injection of comedy is unleashed upon the unsuspecting audience & all becomes clear – this is a show within a show. A concoction of dance, theatre, comedy, dramatic arts and music straight from a ‘Tangerine Dream‘ film score sends us into unexpected bewilderment.  The art of contemporary dance is clear to see, & imagination is a welcome friend when a story is being told through the art of theatrical dance. Crafted to allow each movement to tell a part of the story… you are hooked, like a fish on a line, unable to break free. Compelling, this show feels like it is being constructed for the audience while it is at one with the audience. Genius !!!

This is a show that has been well thought-out… with good foundations and structure it opens the doors of perception. Delivered with real heart and happiness the choreography then spoke for itself . Gripping, shocking, funny, enthralling, these are just a few emotions purveyed throughout the show.  Hypnotic and even spellbinding at times, it leaves you clutching at thoughts… You will be surprised and clearly baffled but not disappointed . Challenge your entertainment, change you diary entries and go see Contemporary: Dance and Theatre and be left feeling reborn….

Reviewed by Raymond Speedie



 Greenside @ Nicolson Square

Aug 16-20 (11.30)


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IMG_20160816_113722388.jpgLast year, LCP Dance Theatre brought their ‘I Am’ to Edinburgh, with it winning three stars from us. I actually saw the show with my reviewer, & tended to agree with her verdict. A year later, then, I was wondering what LCP had done to tweak their outlook & performance – & lets just say a year in the drawing room has done wonders. The beating heart of the company is Joanna Puchala, who creates & participates in her outlandish visions like an Amazonian poetess.

Her website tells us that LCP, ‘raise awareness of human rights issues. We use stage performance, live music and film. We are a not for profit. We operate as a network of artists…We use real life stories to create a choreography. We combine movement with acting and other forms of performing arts. to add dramaturgy and truth to the stage performance.’ Last year, they were not quite there, the dramaturgy went off the boil in places, but Escape is a true joy, a genuine emotion-tendering piece that glues one to one’s seat & one’s eyes firmly fixating upon the dancers. Their theme, this year, is Escape – the flood of immigrants into Europe among them, a story which is backed up by fragmentary documentaries – but it is through the medium of physical movement that the theme is properly explored.



There are two dancers at hand, with Joanna being accompanied by JC Baile –  two diminutive, blond-haired, highly-toned athletic damsels, whose perfect physique would not be out of place at the Rio Olympics right now. Theirs is a thought-provoking, muse-immersive piece of theatre, where the stagecraft is marvelous – a blend of film, light & physical use of the silken swing combining into a visual treat. All that is before the dancing; which is modern, moving, muscular & magnificent. The girls are passionate on their own, passionate together, constantly flowing in perfect time to the moody, majestic score by  Stefano Guzzetti. When they enter the silken swing, they produce hypnotic & fascinating aesthetics, especially in the triumphant beating heart scene – which is a masterwork of dance theatre – I’ve never seen anything with so much realism, so much quality, so much poetry, in Dance. It turns out that LCP & Escape  are in town for just a few days, so I really urge anyone – dance lovers or otherwise – to catch them while they are.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen


THE MUMBLE –  Hi Joanna, great show, very artistic body-movements – did you design these yourself & what inspirations did you draw on for them

THE MUMBLE – Yes I did design it by myself. I was inspired by the nature, such as : water, wind, moon, stars, storm to show the tragedy of the refugees who have to go through the hell like drawing in the sea and never see the promised land. Those who survive can get to the promised land and find their new lives….


Joanna in action

THE MUMBLE –Can you tell us more about the use of the swing in your show

JOANNA –To show the pain and happiness, the emotions arising from one’s feelings while leaving the home and struggling to find a new one. To show the reflection of the lights, shape of the body, breath, touch, video projection from a different prospective. Aerial contact Impro, pare work between dancers and their relationship with the fabric and their bodies wights distribution


JC Baile with LCP Dance Theatre

THE MUMBLE –Can you tell us more about your dancing partner & your personal chemistry

JOANNA – JC came from Australia 3 months ago. I met her through my other dancer Who recommended her to me. JC and I went on very well since the beginning. JC is a very mature and sensitive artist, her artistic intelligence is remarkable and we complement each other. It’s really easy to work with her and generate the material for the choreography and perform. She explores the contact Impro and the aerial dance. We both developed the aerial contact Impro which is quite an interesting addition to the dance theatre.

In The Wine

The Java Dance Theater. Assembly Checkpoint
Aug 4th – 29th
Aesthetic: 5 Choreography: 5 Performance:5
This was one nice surprise, as I didnae have a clue what I was going to review. Having slept for two hours after a night of Rock n Roll excess, performing and dancing. The Mumble editor contacted me and asked me if I would review a dance piece. Having jumped at the chance to review today’s show, I wanted the dancing itself to inform me of the subject matter. I didnae even look at the show’s title on the ticket. Dance, I believe, is my favorite type of show to review and the venue in which the performance was held was an old haunt. It was once The Forest Cafe,  a community hub in which I ran a healing evening in the very space that today’s performance was held.
In The Wine has been brougth to Edinburgh by the Java Dance Theater, which has since 2003 captured audiences in New Zealand and internationally with a visceral dance theater that clambers into the senses. They create and performing original dance theater works built on intense physicality, sensory engagement and full audience immersion. Today’s dancing began with a character that represented Lilith the temptress, a most beautiful, slim lady, as naked as the day she was born. Enticing an equally attractive gentleman into The Garden Of Eden, the dance centered around the human senses. Sight, Taste, Touch. Hearing. Each of these were perfectly portrayed to the most sublime of musical compositions, performed live by cello and violin This really is a brilliant performance that electrifies the very senses that are being represented. Throughout the proceedings, masterful choreography is on display, masterminded by the lead dancer herself, Sarah Gatzonis.
I was thrilled by the whole performance, both beautifully alive and emotive, the portrayal of the senses was most convincing. It wasnae until I was invited to a wine tasting of the wines that I realized that the performance was in fact about the process of making wine -created by the New Zealand winery that sponsored the company to come to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m not a drinker. So got drunk rather quickly. Sensory engagement and full audience immersion. What a thrilling ride. All in all Magnificent.
Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Skal and Silent Space

Dance Base

5 – 14 Aug | 13.00
65 mins | U
£12 (£10 conc)


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Pontus Linder and Olov Ylinenpaa bring their immense break dancing and modern dance skills to this well thought out production; which looks at the male macho culture within hip hop.  Hip Hop and break dancing came about in the 70’s in New York’s Bronx and has taken off globally not just as dance and music but a whole lifestyle and identity.  This production offers highly accomplished movements with effortless power moves, whirring windmills, funky top rock, down rock and freezes that truly delight.  Partnered moves are also cleverly choreographed, displaying the strength and ability of these two dancers.

However it is not just a show of break dancing ability, the production goes further to consider aspects of hip hop culture not generally expressed such as fragility and intimacy and the element of play between the dancers.  Through dance these emotions are expressed and the audience are drawn into their world of expectations, and break battling, where the dancer with the most technical moves wins the battle.  This is personified during the machine room sounds where they dance a ‘hunters walk’ depicting always being prepared to battle, which is a big part of the break dance street scene.

They bring in some other stage touches such as a lava lamp projected onto a screen; suitcases and mats to signify the travelling life of dancers, using an electric razor on the carpet and a diy drill had the audience thinking.  The music also deserves a mention as it is not typical hip hop music.  The cool and funky tunes and carefully crafted choreography make this an interesting and enjoyable performance that I would highly recommend.

Scotland’s Indian dance company Ihayami, formed by Priya Shrikumar, bring this production to life looking at dance in the presence and absence of sound.  The dancers are all trained in traditional Indian dance, most notably Bharatnatyam, a 2 thousand year old dance tradition which was believed to have been revealed by Lord Brahma to Bharata, a famous sage.  This form of dance and ritual flourished in south indian temples to entertain gods and goddesses.

With a cast of 5 dancers, several of whom are from Scotland, the complexities and subtleties of this dance form are joyfully expressed.  With expressive movement of their hands known as ‘mudras’, which are a language of expression, and depiction of different emotions. In addition it is believed that mudras enhance the spiritual and physical wellbeing of those who practice them.  We need only look at hindu and buddhist imagery to see these mudras being practised.

The dancers are splendidly dressed in traditional Indian dress and dance to Shostakovich’s String Quartet in C Minor; the silent dances where the dance movements are emphasized; a solo flute performance by Marion Kenny, with a chant like voice by one of the cast and Poori Thillanam a traditional Indian song.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of dance, especially the mastery of Priya Shrikumar.  Assuming that the audience have little or no knowledge of traditional Indian dance, it would perhaps have benefited from an introduction to this form of dance.  However the quality of dance was excellent and great to see that this form of dance is thriving in Scotland.

Reviewer : Sophie Younger


The Happiness

 Dance City
Three performers with their lives in tatters
Open their hearts and tell us what matters
Charlie Chan
Music:3  Aesthetic: 5 Choreography: 5
We gather in the foyer of Dance City in Newcastle after writing an example of what makes us happy on the back of an illuminous post-it note and sticking it onto a board next to the box office: friends, family, laughter, children, nature, a bag of chips. There’s always one!
Two thirty-somethings with a spring in their step and a twinkle in their eyes which suggest the smell of greasepaint engage us in conversation about this and that. Mostly that. That being the theme of the show: happiness and our search thereof.
Are you excited about meeting the guru? Keep on smiling young man, he’ll like that. If you’re feeling so-so, don’t worry. Because he’ll soon lift you out of the depths of despair and change your life forever. You won’t be disappointed.
Oh, and remember to buy his DVD. And if you want an autograph, no problem. But you’ll have to supply your own pen and paper. Because happiness like money doesn’t grow on trees.
Come show time, we are ushered into a huddle outside the theatre door (“we don’t do queues”) and invited by our CBBC-enthused performers to join them in a game of bouncing our knees. “Hopefully not for long,” sneers an elderly man with a Mount Rushmore face and a Chick Murray tongue for a put-down.
“Come on: bouncy, bouncy! Come on: bouncy, bouncy!” Think Bonny Langford on speed. “Breathe in…and breathe out. Breathe in… and breathe out.” Think Bonny Langford post-spliff. “Are you ready? Is he ready? Then let’s go.” Think Bonny Langford as the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The doors slowly open. An usher guides us to our seats. The guru patiently awaits.
Centre stage, with his back to the audience, a tall man in a grey suit with a handlebar moustache and a pair of dazzling shoes. Stage left, a willowy musician with an electric guitar. Stage right, a mountain of shredded paper which looks like a heap of autumnal leaves suggesting a life in tatters, a tearing up of the rulebooks, a load of sound and fury signifying nothing, a valiant attempt to create order out of chaos.
A quick pirouette reveals the guru’s Colgate smile which is as wide and red as the Forth Bridge. And in the style of a Deep South preacher or an Oprah Winfrey life coach or a multi-millionaire practitioner of positive thinking (hence previous talk of DVDs, autographs and merchandise), happiness we are told in a quick-fire peroration similar to Lucky out of Waiting For Godot lies within. We can’t make it or fake it or shake it out of the money tree.
For the remaining sixty minutes, the three performers (Edward Rapley, Mark Spencely and the company’s titular artistic director Karla Shacklock) supported by Caspar Riis on guitar open their hearts and take us on an exploratory journey about happiness through improvisational dance and scripted song, physical theatre and confessional monologue, silence and rage, titters and tears.
From searching, clutching, grasping, reaching, fighting, racing and clambering for happiness along a narrow corridor of endless white. To sitting in silence in the here and now reflecting on the serenity that being in the moment brings. From walking round and round in circles, chasing our tails, repeating the same old mistakes over and over again and stressing out about our inability to fathom the meaning of life. To playfully grabbing a handful of leaves, throwing them up into the air and watching them fall to the ground like lost hopes and dreams, content in the knowledge what will be will be, life is a mystery and it’s okay not to know. The gamut of human emotions are explored.
h1Most powerfully through first person narrative where each performer has their moment in the spotlight and bares their soul about longing for children, craving for sex, needing to be loved and to connect. Each part-scripted, part-improvised monologue – sometimes delivered to the audience, other performers or themselves – sharing the common themes of an aching emptiness and a gritty determination to keep going, to keep going, no matter what it takes, to fill the gaping hole with… To quote Prince Charles when asked if he was “in love” with his newly wed wife Diana: “whatever ‘in love’ means.” REM’s Everybody Hurts springs to mind.
I could be cynical and say that The Happiness – co-commissioned by Pavilion Dance South West and Theatre Bristol, with support from Swindon Dance and Arts Council England – should be subtitled “A 101 things to do with a brush and a pile of leaves”, because they are continuously used to shape the space, link the sequences and move the action on when an idea comes to a moving conclusion or in some cases fizzles out. And some of the group choreography could do with tightening up. But what shines through is a joy of life, a fearsome honesty to confront the unspoken and a playful sense of humour which holds our attention throughout and invites us to remember what we already know: money, possessions, exotic holidays and designer clothes may offer fleeting moments of happiness; but “whatever ‘in love’ means” enriches us with something deeper, satisfying and long-lasting.
Reviewer : Peter Callaghan


The Last Tango

 Edinburgh Playhouse
Music:5  Aesthetic: 5 Choreography: 5
The excitement had been building all day for this performance. Divine loves dance, in all its forms. And to have the opportunity to witness the craft of Tango delivered by Strictly Come Dancing’s Vincent Simone and Falvia Cacace. Edinburgh was experiencing some very heavy rain as I left the flat, with trusty brolly and fine threads, walking with heartily haste for my rendezvous with Minky at the Playhouse. As I was walking a bus drove with speed through a pot hole in the road that was full of rainwater to unleash a splash of tidal wave proportions that hit me full on. Not even this could dampen my enthusiasm
The Last Tango is a tale told by an elderly man reminiscing about his formative years as a dancer. Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace bringing the memories to life. On a stage set that was spectacularly designed with brilliant lighting. The expert Tango performances were accompanied by a full orchestra, this brought the whole thing together in a way that I have seldom experienced before. With a supporting cast.of dancers and singers, who faithfully reproduced period songs to perfection, that brought this sublimely choreographed masterpiece to life.
My two favorite scenes, the first was was a pre second world war scene, describing the heart wrenching consequences of lovers being torn apart by conscription. It was the sexiest of the Tango’s. That thrilled and seduced the audience. With lots of acrobatics
The Final scene was the thriller for Divine. It was the dress that Flavia Cacace was wearing.Black and diamante sparkles that just lit up the theater. the whole audience were whooping with delight. with a standing ovation that was just and revered.
A Brilliant Performance All Round.
Reviewer Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
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Nutcracker Ballet

11th Feb 2016.

Eden Court, Inverness

Music:3  Aesthetic: 5 Choreography: 5

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The Nutcracker is a largely new production by Ballet West’s Choreographer and Artistic Adviser, Daniel F Job, with new costumes and sets. This was a thoroughly enjoyable production of the nutcracker, a breath of fresh air, with amazing dancers and stunning costumes throughout.

The nutcracker is a lovely Christmas story that shows children experiencing the excitement of Christmas and joy and magic in receiving gifts. The story tells of Clara one of the older children and her wonderment of receiving a handmade nutcracker and her adventures through the night as the nutcracker comes alive.

As the nutcracker starts it’s a cozy Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum’s house. Their house is decorated with Christmas ornaments, wreaths, stockings, mistletoe and in the center of it all, a majestic Christmas tree. As the scene progresses a mysterious guest arrives dressed in dark clothing, nearly frightening Fritz, but not Clara. Clara knows he is Godfather Drosselmeyer, the toymaker. His surprise arrival is warmly accepted and all the children dance and carry on with laughter as he further encourages the party atmosphere bringing in various more performers-two performers deserving note are the two dolls, their ability to portray dancing as if wooden was incredible as was their ability to hold perfectly difficult poses as they are being carried around the stage.

Through the performance we are treated to a beautiful mix of dancing and humor. There is a touching piece where an elderly guest suddenly puts her walking stick to the side and goes into a very energetic fling. The fight between the nutcrackers and the mouse king was also very well done and the mouse kings outfit was stunning.

In one of the final dances we see Clara listen to the most beautiful waltz she has ever heard. Clara and the Nutcracker Prince watch with amazement as the flowers dance in beautiful mesmerizing patterns while a single Dewdrop floats above them. The costumes for the flowers were inspired and beautiful. The audience applauded at the site of the flowers. Dancers wrapped in beautiful petals of sheer gold that complimented the dancing perfectly.

I feel we were watching some upcoming dancers who will go very far. Ballet west is, certainly showcasing the amazing talent they have within the school in this production of the nutcracker. I felt this ballet had a wonderful fusion of traditional ballet moves but also other dance styles including impressive yoga performances.

This ballet will be performing in the following venues if you can get tickets I recommend you go, you will not be disappointed. It will next be on at the Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock 14th February 2016 followed by Edinburgh International Conference Centre, 20th February

Reviewer : Lucy Tonkin




Eden Court – Empire Theatre

Wednesday 27th January 

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Everyone knows the story of Cinderella, its been told thousands of times in thousands of different ways, but this collaboration between The Scottish Ballet, choreographer Christopher Hampson and designer Tracy Grant Lord brought a new lease of enchantment to this well known fairytale along with a dramatically dark score from Prokofiev.

Christopher Harrison as the Prince and Bethany Kingsley-Garner as Cinderella. Photograph- Andy Ross - Scottish Ballet.jpgOpening with a shadowy set with black umbrella’s a young Cinderella lays a single rose at her mothers grave. The rose is a recurring theme throughout, the set and costumes are based on Art Nouveau which gives it a flowing organic style, bringing the story back to its magical roots. There is a stunning rose tree, beautiful dancing roses in the garden, a grasshopper, silk moths and of course the fairy godmother played by Araminta Wrait  Bethany Kingsley-Garner gave a wonderful performance as Cinderella and danced with delicate grace, transforming from her humble unassuming character in act one, to regal belle of the ball and then back to her more natural self in the fantastic finale with the Prince performed by Christopher Harrison.

Bethany Kingsley-Garner as Cinderella - Photo by Andy Ross.jpg

I wasn’t expecting to laugh so much, but there was a brilliant element of comedy in this ballet, executed with elegant timing and skill, most notably by the two ugly sisters played by Sophie Martin and Eve Mutso, who’s solos at the ball were genuinely hilarious. Its the subtle plays and twists on the story that gives this adaptation a certain edge, like the stepmother in stockings, suspenders and a vivid green chiffon dressing gown and the interpretation of trying on the slipper, which is depicted with figures dressed from head to mid thigh in black, emphasising their lower legs in tights was sublime. Its not just Cinderella who finds true love, even one of the ugly sister gets her happy ending. Entertaining and enjoyable on many levels and a highlight to my January.

Reviewer : Zoe Gwynne