Dance Base, Edinburgh
August 14, 2019
The result of a long-term project, Ensemble sees Robbie Synge and Lucie Boyes bring together dancers aged from their 30s to 70s. It is a performance, but it’s also a gathering of five friends, an expression of the joyful possibilities of dance, and puts to rest a few of the still too-often assumptions made about age. Part in silence, part to a mixed soundscape and through choreography and a series of challenges and tasks, it shows their strengths. It lays bare a few wobbles too, but that’s all part of the fun.
There’s a ‘follow-my-leader’ duet for the excellent and beautifully light on her feet Hannah Venet and Angus Balbernie, then another for Balbernie and Synge that develops into a battle of strength and a play fight. These and other sections are all infused with gentle humour. The child within very quickly bubbles to the surface. One senses they are really enjoying being there for us.
The sections in silence in particular appear to be improvised around a structure, the dancers controlling the music themselves via on on-stage laptop, on a table around which they retire when not performing.
It may be a sharing about what the performers can do, but the sections that turn into a series balances, work with a rope and other trust and support workshop or class-style exercises hold the attention less well. It doesn’t hep that these tend to be the parts without accompaniment work. Another scene involves two glasses of water that get spilled on the stage and then have to be mopped up. It’s a shame its’ not turned into fun choreography; an opportunity missed.
Ensemble is an example of what is possible. It ends as it begins, leaving lovely memories. Ensemble is fun, for the performers and us watching. Above all, it’s a celebration: of age and how it only really matters if we let it, of community, of dance.
Ensemble has now completed its run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.