Pleasance at EICC – Lennox Theatre
The Freedom Ballet of Ukraine presents many personal experiences throughout this performance. A dancer holds onto another who evades their grapples with an expression of regret. This heavy moment of wishing to stay, resisting, but having to leave seeps through the piece. Comical elements balance out the performance, two audience members being asked to help carry a dead-weight performer provided much simple and effective entertainment.
Performers thrust their hips at each other and explore sensual floorwork displaying ardent affection. Movement is primarily a contemporary take on ballet, with some moments of classical lines. There is even a section of graceful liquid dance in which a man cradles a baby in a blanket. A mixture of solo, duet and group, all performers have moments that show off their talent. Though impressive as a whole, some group routines could be tighter. Making use of a female performer’s height, it is refreshing to see her take on the male role in a duet – spinning a man around and lifting him as they dance on a table.
The soundtrack is eclectic. With music in a range of languages and genres, it feels like everyone in the audience is being spoken to. The piece also benefits from the interesting use of breathwork. Whistles, huffs, deep inhalations. The movement also features within the sound of the piece, with light footwork followed by shuffles creating an entertaining soundscape.
The Lennox Theatre at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre is a great venue for the performance, with seating almost on the same level as the stage giving a sense of intimacy to the large space. The gap between stage and audience is breached numerous times with performers dancing in and with the audience to create a joyous feeling of togetherness.
A large wardrobe dominates the stage from which characters enter in a manner drawing from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This piece of set design is utilised well to create some memorable tableaux. One performer falls off the top into the arms of those below, a solitary topless character stands in the rain that pours from inside the wardrobe itself.
On the front of the wardrobe is a mirror reflecting back at the audience. We are challenged to look at ourselves amidst all the action. With frantic reluctance, a woman throws clothing into a suitcase, a waiter’s tray of champagne flutes rattles at the sound of gunfire. How are we similar to these people, and in what way are we aiding or impeding their progress? As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, are we just bystanders, an audience?
Produced by: Freedom Ballet of Ukraine
Choreography by: Nazar Didyk and Kostiantyn Hordiienko
Freedom Ballet played at EdFringe 2022.