TheSpace @ Niddry St, Edinburgh
August 15, 2022
New York City-based Chloe Kastner Dance Company make a welcome return to the Fringe with Bring Me to Light, a 50-minute piece based on the line, “If I show you the darkness I hold inside” by composer Jeanine Tesori, that explores substance abuse. toxic relationships, and mental and chronic illness. Kastner’s dives into pasts that might be regretted and preferably forgotten seem to be more connected with heartbreak, although there are suggestions of abusive relationships too.
It sounds like it could be a bit grim, but while Kastner’s 40-minute work does have plenty of darker moments, it’s ultimately dance of hope and optimism. Despite sometimes needing a bigger stage to breathe fully, the American modern dance choreography is very engaging and finds beauty even in the darkest of places. Perhaps best of all, Bring Me to Light is a dance full of fine dancing, a piece where the moving body does all the storytelling.
Six dancers. Six people. Six lives. We see them as individuals in an episodic work of solos and duets, with a few ensemble sections slotted in for contrast. The dancers are excellent as they tell their stories and touch on sensitive subjects. The characters portrayed come through well.
The solos are the more powerful. They feel more personal as the dancers baring their histories and insecurities, heartbreak in particular. What was it Martha Graham said about dance being the hidden language of the soul?
The first solo sets the tone. Sara Grassi draws on the constant “Do you remember” in the accompanying text, the movement evoking thoughts and internal feelings rather than being a literal embodiment of the words. As always, it’s the momentary stillnesses, often accompanied by staring into space, looking into the distance as if ‘seeing’ in her mind, that are the most powerful.
In her solo, the precise nature of Emma Iredale’s torment is less clear, although that it is there is plain to see in her face, and in the flowing, rolling dance. Haley Miller’s solo again draws on text, this time from someone pleading from a jail cell in a prison described as “a human zoo with the hyenas in charge.” There are more super solos from Casey Hartman and Tyrese Villella.
Duets tend to hint at fractured relationships. There’s often a sense of one partner caught between wanting to leave and wanting to stay, hoping that their problems will somehow go away. Best of them is that between Grassi and Luca Villa that comes towards the end. They demonstrate potently just how “real love has its problems but it’s what’s in between” that causes the biggest issues.
But, as the title suggests, Bring Me to Light ends brightly and positively, the message being that it’s all too easy to wallow in the darker corners of our pasts. What happened cannot be escaped, but life is too short to hide there and constantly reflect on the past forever. Look for the silver lining. It is there and should be celebrated.
Bring Me to Light is at TheSpace @ Niddry St, Edinburgh to August 20, 2022. Visit tickets.edfringe.com for tickets.