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The North review at Dance Base, Edinburgh – ‘imaginative dance and dialogue’

The North. Photo: Amy Sinead Photography The North. Photo: Amy Sinead Photography
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Dislocation finds a compelling physical language in The North. A pair of female dancers in fuzzy reindeer antlers move with hyper-articulate strangeness – limbs crumple, fold and semaphore, their torsos jitter, convulse or torque into odd angles. Concentrated energy connects them.

Meanwhile, a bearded outsider, glum and cagoule-clad, looks on with incomprehension and frustration. He’s stolid and still, unable to partake in these fizzing patterns of motion.

Inspired by choreographer Joan Cleville’s own experience as an incomer to Scotland from sunnier Spanish climes, the piece imaginatively evokes a forbidding frozen landscape. A backdrop of plain pale grey is complemented by a lonesome pine tree and a radio that sometimes blares out white noise.

The excellent antler-dancers (Eve Ganneau and Solene Weinachter) are shapeshifting spirits rooted in this sparse but surprising setting, dressed in Fair Isle knits and gold trousers. One begins to chatter, emitting an enthusiastic rush of moist Donald Duck vocalisations at the bewildered stranger, whose strangulated response peters out into sighs.

Visual scale is manipulated with persuasive ease using toy cars, limbs and bits of expanded polystyrene.

Despite laboured sections that involve a pop-up tent, The North’s moments of wistful wonder elevate it beyond the pedestrian towards fine physical poetry.

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Imaginative dance and dialogue evokes the northern landscape as a confounding and comic emotional terrain