On Tuesday 17th January Festival Theatre presented their third annual DanceFest show, a celebration of youth dance talent. When considering dance performances, it is primarily the styles of dance that leave one rapt. Joyous one off performances of breakdance, Shakthi and tap were filled with energy, sound and expression leaving the audience grinning. On walking in, it was initially concerning to consider how a theatre of that size would become full however this was quickly calmed as the auditorium was bustling with family and friends supporting.
The performers themselves were also utterly capable at filling the stage with absolute ease, relishing such an opportunity with choreography that used every inch. There was a strong lyrical, contemporary and ballet presence that dominated the performance with beautiful lines, particularly from Broughton High School and Edinburgh Dance Academy, whose lines were clean, flowing from a neck recline to a flexing of the foot. The powerful portrayal of conflict within relationships from Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange was utterly divine with clear influences from choreographers such as Travis Wall, which left the audience stunned. The limb extensions were close to perfection and, as with every other piece, the feeling behind every move was experienced and believed by every single dance.
A key aspect of group dance pieces is certainly the ability to maintain synchronicity (a particular challenge for dancers in the front row) but each dancer’s timing was brilliant in each performance, depending on the difficulty of each move. Added to this, dance’s role as a physical projection of a message was used in full force. Rather special examples of this were Indepen-dance Young 1’z, Jodie Taylor Group and SBYC2’s presentation of the simple aspects of everyday life shared by all of us, from putting on jackets, to lipstick, to simple movement. These groups joined the cohorts of dancers who can show us the power of dance and movement and how it reflects on each member of the audience.
One must also consider how costume and music fit with dance pieces and all groups succeeded in selecting costumes that united the dancers but allowed us to pick out Dance Captains or soloists if need be. The music chosen was evocative and brought out the clear messages every group succeeded in showing us. Edinburgh College’s selection of familiar club songs such as ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga immediately added another layer to our interpretation of their energetic depiction of a ball.
While there were a few bumps along the way, a skipped step or two and a few missteps, the performance was a joy with the dancers making the audience laugh, smile and think long after the performance had finished. This was a show that delivered all the necessary excitement about the future of dance.