|Dance Base Presents... Parallel, Parallels|
|Written by Susannah Radford|
|Published on Sunday, 10 August 2008|
The Grassmarket is quite the romantic place to be in Edinburgh. Nestled below the Castle with a road paved with cobblestones, it feels like you've stepped back in time. Setting it firmly in the 21st century however, are the restaurants lining one side of the road, offering a range of international flavours and bars. And it's along this street that Dance Base, Scotland's National Centre for dance is located.
Running a multitude of dance classes during term time, it opens its doors to a number of varied and interesting shows during the Festival. I chose Dance Base presents… Parallel / Parallels.
It was a mistake. plan B's work explores quantum physics and the concept of parallel universes, but it merely skims the surface of the ideas it seeks to investigate. The reflective surfaces of the floor and the mirrored flats in the wings transform the studio in shiny, plastic perfection. Parallel universes are therefore explored on one level through the myriad reflections of the dancers onstage both below and to the sides. In addition to this, movable standing slats conceal the action in front and behind of an audience placed opposite each other, so that each side experiences a different or parallel experience of the same action.
However, that's as far as the idea is taken. Michael Frayn took a whole wordy play to beautifully explain scientific theories in Copenhagen; here, it's paid nothing more than lip service. Random ideas are highlighted but not really built on, either physically or literally. So while the production values are high, the piece does not match the ideas it attempts to explain, either in choreography or the level of dancing.
One part I did like was the realisation or fulfilment of two people walking very slowly towards each other. At first it was just slow, but on revisiting, the action is paused to explore the notion of chance and coincidence using a pithy little formula. Unfortunately, the last repetition falls a little flat.
While this piece doesn't live up to expectation, Dance Base historically has great shows; so don't be put off by sampling more. It's just that this group - in attempting to discover a multitude of parallel universes - forgot to first attend to their own.
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FROM OUR ARCHIVES
These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2008. We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.