Dancing in the Streets review – making a riveting virtue of necessity

Ťhe Edinburgh international festival has made a virtue of necessity, switching its dance programme more or less entirely online and making four riveting films that are available to view for free until 18 九月. A loss becomes an incredible gain.

These contrasting pieces made by international dance-makers share a profound sense of place and a belief that dance happens in the heart of life. They are uplifting as well as lovely, constantly offering a sense of possibility.

Alice Ripoll’s film, from Rio de Janeiro, shows what happened to her company Cia REC when they continued rehearsing after their international tour was cancelled. She asks her dancers, recruited from the favelas, to talk about their lives, the way dance challenges and frees them. “Imagine if we put all the money we have put into guns into dance,” says one. They dance with passion and joy, their intricate movements breathtaking, their commitment inspiring.

In his film Retrace-Retract, Gregory Maqoma returns to Soweto, where he grew up, taking with him an exceptional group of dancers and a desire to understand. “Your body is a moving memoir of the time you have known,” says the voiceover. The dance, in the streets, in churches, in homes, illuminates the theme: this creative, fluid choreography, this beauty, comes from poverty and racism yet rises above them.

The Scottish artist Janice Parker stays very close to home in Small Acts of Hope and Lament; every day of lockdown she went to Holyrood Park to dance. Her outings, recorded on iPhone, became part ritual, part meditation, part act of defiance. Put together across three screens, the result is extraordinary as Parker curls her body into the landscape or stands arms aloft in the wind. The final film, The Odor of Elephants After the Rain, by the Beirut-based Omar Rajeh, takes the form of three solos, shot in the streets of his blasted city. Demanding and intense, focused both inward and outward, it works a slow magic, the dance becoming quite the best way of expressing questions and finding answers.