Edinburgh Fringe: Dance, acrobatics and colour in Diabolo Dance Theatre’s Light of Life

Assembly George Square Studios, Edinburgh
August 18, 2022

Light of Life (生命之光), part of the Taiwan Season at the Edinburgh Fringe, is a unique show. Quite simply, it’s a magical hour of dance and acrobatics that oozes warmth and that will delight the whole family.

For those not in the know, diabolo is a sort of hourglass shaped bobbin. As a toy, it’s spun using a string attached to two sticks, held one in each hand. In the show, as a circus prop, it’s used in any number of amazing tricks, as the artists of Diabolo Dance Theatre (舞鈴劇場) demonstrate.

Directed by artistic director Liu Le-chen (劉樂群), the show tells of sea goddesses and the four elements, but you can put that aside and just wonder at how the tricks are all done.

Light of Life
Photo courtesy Diabolo Dance Theatre

In the way it combines music, dance, acrobatics and humour, not to mention the vivid colours, it is reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil, but you never see Cirque this close up. So close that, at one point, flashing red, white and blue whizzing diablos are launched from the aisles, over the audience’s heads, before being deftly caught on stage. The dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination is startling. It was just one example of the amazing precision and synchronicity that runs right through the show.

But there is so much more. Super dancers appear in brightly coloured costumes, although the highlight is a lyrical solo by Lin Yi-jiun (林怡均) in flowing white. There are some heart-stopping acrobatics from the tall Sun Cheng-hsueh (孫正學) and the elfin Hsia Ling (夏鈴). There’s comedy from Liu Nai-wen (劉乃文), who appears in oversize coat and giant hat, which includes a very funny scene with increasingly giant diablos.

Sun Cheng-hsueh and Hsia Ling in Light of Life
Photo courtesy Diabolo Dance Theatre

The show has had to be adapted to fit the Assembly Studio’s relatively low ceiling, but it doesn’t detract from it for a second. At the end, a short film gives an idea of the large-scale performances the company usually present back home.

Throw in a mix of Western and locally-influenced music, including live drumming, and you have a wonderful recipe for a great show that will keep you rapt throughout. And afterwards, if anyone fancies trying it for themselves, the cast were only too keen to help out with short impromptu lessons.

Light of Life is a brilliant Fringe one-off. Go!

Light of Life is at Assembly George Square Studios, Edinburgh to August 28, 2022. Visit tickets.edfringe.com for tickets.