By Lyndsey Winship
10 August 2020
As a gallant effort to keep the show on the road (or the screen) despite the cancellation of this summer’s edition, Edinburgh international festival has commissioned An Evening with Scottish Ballet. Although “evening” is pushing it, as this is more like a half-hour sizzle reel. Six short films packaged together, old and new, plus existing choreography filmed especially for Covid times by director Michael Sherrington.
There are two pieces from the company’s resident choreographer Sophie Laplane, full of stylish staccato riffs set to 4/4 machine beats. It’s a distinctive style, very watchable. In Oxymore, Rishan Benjamin and Anna Williams dance backstage in front of towers of flight cases and props. Their movement is straight-faced and straight-angled, a kind of un-groovy groove. Idle Eyes, filmed last year, is glitchier and quirkier, and benefits from the texture of a bigger cast, too.
Another pre-coronavirus film, Frontiers, by San Francisco Ballet’s Myles Thatcher, was filmed in 2019, under a concrete flyover. Thatcher aims to undo the gender stereotypes in ballet and he’s created gender-neutral partnering – the same choreography danced by two men, two women or mixed couples, spliced together with fast cuts until it all becomes a blur of identities. Flickering between dancers dressed in androgynous tailoring, the women do lifts, the men sort of swan dive, and it completely works as choreography. Crazy that this is still a boundary to push in 21st-century ballet, of course.
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