Edinburgh Dance: Eowyn Emerald & Dancers at Greenside, Royal Terrace
Seven short pieces that are emotionally suggestive, physically precise, yet expansive and perfectly calibrated for an intimate space
August 15 2016, 12:01am,
The American choreographer Eowyn Emerald makes the kind of caringly crafted work that the Fringe can usefully help audiences to discover.
Tucked away in Portland, Oregon, and back in Edinburgh for a third time, she and her small company present a virtually seamless hour of seven short pieces that are emotionally suggestive, physically precise, yet expansive and perfectly calibrated for an intimate space. Think of it as a kinetic concept album with varieties of contact between human beings as its mathematic connective tissue.
Set to a selection of mainly rhythmic electronic or instrumental music, the curtain-raiser is a consistently watchable oddity. Emerald, petite but powerfully elastic, and her fellow dancers Holly Shaw and the strapping Joel Walker start out moving mechanically in boiler suits. Soon the drab garb is stripped off, with the cast now sporting flannels and stocking caps in different bright, solid colours: red, green and blue.
Josh Murry, all in white, soon joins them. Together the four look and behave rather like elves indulging in a peculiar night on the razzle.
Having unobtrusively slipped offstage, Shaw returns for a trio that finds her in particularly flirty mood, casting coy, come-hither looks at us as she flits between Walker and Murry in a jazz-ballet fashion. She’s replaced by Emerald, whose quietly charged duet with Murry is built round the exchange of a bowler and jacket.
Three more pairings follow, Shaw and Walker’s more loving and lenient than the subsequent harder one between him and Emerald. Next comes a duet with a decidedly Sapphic edge expressed through the women’s polished and daring physical proximity.
The finale, another quartet, seems like a summation of all that’s come before it but with an extra dimension — as if all that we’ve seen till then has finally reached a point of resolution.
None of these dances outstays its welcome, nor do they convey any explicit “message”. Emerald is too wise an artist to be that reductive. Her work may not be radical in form, but it is cumulatively impressive.