Edinburgh Fringe: Éowyn Emerald & Dancers, Dream Logos, Ballet Freedom

August 17, 2022

Your Tomorrow by Éowyn Emerald & Dancers
Greenside @ Nicholson Square

Éowyn Emerald’s Your Tomorrow is an engaging, entertaining and intimate jazz ballet for dancers Jack Anderson and Katie Armstrong, and 144 Ferrero Rocher, although by the end that number is reduced a little. One or two do get eaten!

Although it’s a dance that celebrates a particular relationship, in many ways it’s about all relationships: their ups and downs, their fun moments, their difficult moments, their fun times, their darker times. The work also draws on Émerald’s work with individuals living with Parkinson’s and the impact it has on families living with the disease.

The choreography is fine, the storytelling clear (and how nice to find a piece that’s immediately understandable without a programme note!) and the dancing excellent, but what really makes Your Tomorrow is that we really see the couple’s different personalities. It’s writ large in bodies and in faces.

Armstrong is the bubbly one. Fun and positivity oozes from her whole body. There’s a lovely cheeky playfulness as she gets to know Anderson (and it’s definitely she who woos him), who is quieter and more thoughtful. You suspect hidden depths. What is it about opposites attracting? Whatever, they are an absolute delight. That they keep you engaged for the whole 50 minutes speaks volumes.

There are buoyant and vibrant moments. I loved the dance to the two Dave Brubeck tracks. There are fun dances, most notably a great floor-based number to ‘You Are My Sunshine’. There are quieter, poignant moments. Emerald is also not afraid to pause and just let things soak in.

The Emerald Theatre at Greenside @ Nicholson Square gives the work plenty of space to breathe too. There’s depth if you want it, or you can just sit back and enjoy the easy-going, very pleasing dance that it is. Just take a jumper. The theatre has fans running and aimed directly at the audience. By the end, it was really starting to feel chilly.

And the chocolates? That’s a nod to the generosity of sharing a sweet, Ferrero Rocher having been a favourite of Emerald’s grandmother. And they do roll and scatter very satisfyingly.

Your Tomorrow hits all the right buttons: dance that puts a smile on your face and sends you away happy indeed.

Eowyn Emerald & Dancers are at Greenside @ Nicholson Square, Edinburgh to August 20, 2022. For tickets visit tickets.edfringe.com.

Dream Logos by LSU Theatre
Greenside @ Nicholson Square

The publicity for Dream Logos by LSU Theatre (Louisiana State University) talks worthily about how “We solve our greatest problems through dreaming while our deepest fears are revealed,” going on to claim they reveal the challenges of the twenty-something as they become future leaders. That’s before it gets onto dark matter, quarks and trauma embedded in our brains. If that is in the show, it remains pretty much hidden.

Those words suggest the show is serious and deeply thought, and there are hints of that here and there. Scenes that presumably are intended to show the multiple, confusing voices of today’s world are quite effective. There is also quite a disturbing dark moment when hooded figures drag what appear to be prisoners off, a nightmarish scene reminiscent of a few hostage situations we have seen in foreign wars.

But too much is unconvincing. Some of the acting is so hammy, I can only assume it is supposed to be humorous. A scene featuring someone being sewn up after an operation is hilarious. Upstage, a frame is used for aerial work, although that largely fails to inspire either. That frame did look seriously unstable, though.

Presentation is not all it might be either. The cast (the excellent Katherine Elan excepted) have decided to wear face masks. I question the need, but if they are going to have them, they might at least make the effort to make them part of the costumes. They were a real mix and match of styles. Those masks also seriously impact the performers speech, some of which came across as barely audible mumbling.

It ends surprisingly, when one of the men reveals a truly superb singing voice, the song accompanied by the best aerial work of the show by far. But overall, Dream Logos feels very much like the student show that it is.

Dream Logos has now completed its run.

Ballet Freedom
Pleasance at EICC

Ballet Freedom

Centre stage for Ballet Freedom stands a huge giant polished wooden wardrobe. It’s used to great effect, at different times being an entrance and exit to the stage, a shower, a tube train, a place to stash bodies, and even a place to store clothes.

But it’s by far the best element of a 75-minute show by the Freedom Ballet of Ukraine (the male performers had to get special permission to leave the country) that, while packed with energy and enthusiasm, and weird characters struggles to ignite.

The show is a sort of pantomime-theatre with dance numbers slotted in. The opening, which includes a line of waiters dressed in billowing trousers and huge pill box hats, all carrying dishes for a banquet, suggests narrative. But if it ever was there, it soon vanishes.

If there is a theme, it’s relationships, love and loss. But romantic? Not really.

It feels a bit like a revue. There are bright moments. One number that sees one of the women dance with her partner as if a rag doll is rather clever, but too often the dance in particular struggles. An early number to a dreadful piano reduction of Ravel’s Bolero is as uninspired and dull as the music. There’s also a rather obvious sex scene.

There are a few fun comedy moments, though, two of which involve dead bodies and audience participation in disposing of them. A near final image of the performers packed away in that wardrobe, ready to be transported to the next engagement is also a real picture.

Ballet Freedom is a decidedly untaxing show. The dancers are clearly very good but they deserve much better material than this.

Ballet Freedom is at the Pleasance at EICC, Edinburgh, until August 28, 2022. Visit tickets.edfringe.com for tickets.