Seeking Unicorns with Chiara Bersani

Dance Base, Edinburgh
August 14, 2019

David Mead

Seeking Unicorns is what Chiara Bersani calls the “museal version” of her hour-long, 2017 work, Gentle Unicorn. Intended for non-theatre spaces, it was devised as a research into contact and meeting other people; other unicorns.

The just 98cm tall Bersani says she wishes to breathe life into the iconic creature, celebrating movement for all ages, shapes and sizes. In a stoic performance in which her effort and feelings truly transmit to the audience. After awakening, she awakens, pauses and watches us watching her. Like the beast, Bersaini is strong but fragile, vulnerable. Small, she appears almost lost in the space, yet she moves forward determinedly. As she slowly traverses the stage, she increasingly pauses to look at individuals seated on the floor.

In a way, not much happens, but look closely and this is a dance loaded with meticulous detail. She has one of the more expressive faces of the Fringe. She laughs. She closes her eyes as if in ecstasy. Despite being restricted to the floor, a very expressive body too. You notice the way she moves her feet, almost gesturing with them, and the simple but so clear beckoning of her finger.

Finally, she picks up a trumpet. She conjures sounds from it, calling to the rest of her herd, two of which appear calling back with flutes.

Seeking Unicorns is a solo of beauty and depth. Thirty minutes is probably about the right length. When it comes, the end is rather uplifting but there are times when you wonder where, if anywhere, it is going.

Seeking Unicorns has now completed its run at the 2019 Fringe.