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Border Tales review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘vital exploration of multiculturalism’

Protein Dance's Border Tales. Photo: Jane Hobson Protein Dance's Border Tales. Photo: Jane Hobson
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Luca Silvestrini’s Border Tales has been around since 2014, but its messages about multiculturalism seem more relevant than ever in the rabid wake of recent world politics. It’s a bold mixture of music, dance and dialogue, compellingly performed by a diverse cast and drawn from their personal experiences as immigrants and outsiders in Britain.

There’s a smooth and slicing suppleness to Salah El Brogy’s opening solo, performed to a single drum beat. Things take a less ruminative turn with the onset of the dialogue and the arrival of Andy. Something of a swivel-eyed curtain-twitcher, he’s got crap jokes on tap and a comment to make about every nationality and newcomer he spies.

But his bigotry is partly concealed by a patronising hospitality. He hosts a welcome party for the cast, braying “konichiwa” in the face of Taiwanese Yuyu, offering rum and sassy finger snaps to Nigerian-born Londoner Temitope. Passages of dance tend to have a deeper resonance than much of the faux-jocular dialogue. A handshake greeting disintegrates into a bellicose jostle, while the latter section includes an ensemble dance in which finely woven skeins of movement create an intricate physical language that belongs to nobody yet is shared by all.

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Vital, satirical and sad exploration of multiculturism and prejudice performed with aplomb