One of the great delights of the dance world in the last few years has been the development of intergenerational dance and dance opportunities for all. Why Stop There? was therefore an appropriate title for this programme at Dancebase, the impressive venue for many of the dance performances at the Fringe this year.
First to appear were eight teenaged girls from Dundee with a piece called TIM (This Is Me). Entering with torches, they revealed themselves to be of different ages and capable of a wide range of dance movement, all of it choreographed by themselves, and directed by Dawn Hartley.
The girls are part of Scottish Dance Theatre Creative Learning in Dundee, and on the evidence of this performance, they are learning a great deal about dance and about each other. In what was to become something of a neat theme for the programme, the girls spoke about what is important to them about dance, showing as much confidence in their voice work as in their dance. These spoken statements were then further developed through exhilarating and impressive dance.
The second group to appear were the Lothian Youth Dance Company, aged from 14 to 19, and choreographed for their 6 minute piece Run River Run by Steinvor Palsson. After a stately and controlled beginning, this short piece soon exploded into joyful movement to a range of movement including Penguin Café Orchestra, always an invigorating accompaniment for dancers. The whole piece built into a great finishing image and it was a shame not to see more of these talented young dancers.
The final group were the stunning parade of elegance and grace that was PRIME, a semi-professional group for those aged over 60 with a piece called Carry On Dancing, also choreographed by Steinvor Palsson. Entering in procession in beautiful evening gowns, gloves and accessories, the recurring emotion from this group of ten mature women was joy – the joy of dancing and the enjoyment of the movement of others.
They introduced themselves by demonstrating a particular movement and what it meant for them, with the touching effect of some of these statements deliberately undercut by the sarcasm of others: humour was very much a part of the piece. Alternately text, stately poses and vigorous movement told us all about this group and their background. Later, they told us why they still dance, with perhaps the best reason and the one that spoke for all of them being “because I can.”
The deliberately anarchic finish deftly avoided any risk of sentimentality, and the over-riding impression was one of grace, power and control. The best dance can invigorate and lift the spirits not just of performers but also of audiences – and PRIME did just that. Bravo!