BEYOND Bollywood: In/Out of Bounds
Greenside @ Riddles Court, Edinburgh
August 19, 2022
In their first appearance on the Edinburgh Fringe, BEYOND Bollywood, a dance charity based in Hong Kong, presented In/Out of Bounds, a cross-cultural coming together of Indian and Chinese dance, with a dash of Scotland thrown in for good measure.
The show flips from one genre to another in a series of short dances that are at first stylistically unique but that then fuse together. The marriage works surprisingly well, helped in part by both Indian and Chinese dance emphasising hand gestures and shapes, and eye contact. Both also come with a graceful strength, albeit in different ways.
Hidden away in Greenside’s lovely, intimate Riddles Court venue at the top of the Royal Mile, the show was essentially purely about dance and providing a freedom; a release from pressure and restrictions. The positive atmosphere and pleasing choreography that was untaxing for the viewer also provided a welcome break from the often intensely considered and deep Fringe offerings.
But, and as the title suggests, along the way, it also touched upon themes of boundaries and freedom, very pertinent issues in Hong Kong at the moment, both politically and in relation to Covid (it is one of the very few places in the world still with significant restrictions).
Those ideas were particularly to the fore in the opening section that saw Chiu Shing-hing at first dance freely with water sleeves before finding his movement limited as they are held by two of the women; and then in a dance by Oxana Banchshikova, in which she is slowly but inextricably bound by a rope.
Elsewhere, there was a pleasing Classical Chinese female duet by Yeung Kin Ping and Yeung DingDing, ‘Boxed In’, inspired by Hong Kong’s small spaces. Two unusual fusions came as the couple later returned in a meeting of Chinese dance and Bollywood, before Indian classical dance ran up against Scottish fiddle music. In sounds odd indeed, but the latter actually worked rather well.
If the brief post-show session, the artists revealed In/Out of Bounds was actually part improvised (you would never have guessed). They also gave a quick chance for the audience to try a little kathak.
Theiya Arts Dance Collective: The Ticking Clock
theSpace Triplex, Edinburgh
August 20, 2022
There was more Indian dance at theSpace Triplex, where Theiya Arts Collective, a collaboration between Edinburgh-based organisations Theiya Arts, Agnya Movement and Tharanga Dance, gave just two performances of The Ticking Clock.
Directed by Himadri Madan and inspired by the Climate Clock installation in Times Square, New York, which illustrates the time remaining before climate change becomes irreversible, the work explores humankind’s relationship to nature and the emergency of climate change.
The audience are immediately and very effectively involved as they were asked to set the alarms on their mobile phones for 35 minutes hence. As the time counted down, and with periodic reminders of how long remained, the performers use South Asian classical dance to depict nature, at the same time constructing a visual artwork on stage, although the connection of the latter to the topic is a little vague.
The music, part played live by the excellent Manava Singh on tabla, also suggests a ticking clock, while the rest of the soundscape includes news reports of climate change and quite a lot of David Attenborough.
As time ebbs away, the artists explained aspects of Indian classical dance as they went along. It is a rather effective way of explaining meaning and made the classical and traditional elements of the dance forms very accessible. I certainly learned about and then saw things in movement that I had not previously appreciated.
Like the climate change aspects of the work, it is all very unpretentious, though. You learn and engage with the topics without actually realising it; sort of learning without having to make a big effort; the sort of learning that always works best.
The Ticking Clock came to a juddering halt when those alarms went off right on cue.
While the work doesn’t try to answer the complex question of how to solve the climate crisis, and is in no way preachy, it does make you think. As we were reminded correctly, alarms can be a warning, they can be the end, but they can also signal a new beginning, as at the start of the day.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022 is now finished.