Even in the vast landscape of Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s performances, one can find patterns and discover topics that are currently on several dance makers’ minds. From tales of boyhood to Taiwanese curiosities, here’s a glimpse into my week’s worth of dance performances at the world’s largest performing arts festival.
It’s been trending for a while: dance shows from, with and about boys or men. Whether it’s a response to the slightly earlier trend of girlpower, the more recent #metoo movement, or just a natural desire to redefine masculinity in the gender-fluid 21st century is an open question, but Fringe delivered its own takes on the subject. Barely Methodical Troupe’s Bromance sets out to explore male camaraderie in a circus show that offers some entertaining stunts, most notably a breathtaking cyr wheel solo. But any deeper meaning fails on the tired, cheap jokes of the armpit-smelling, bum-grabbing-type. Un Poyo Rojo by Argentina’s Nicolás Poggi and Luciano Rosso (performed by Rosso with Alfonso Barón) doesn’t get much further. Set in an empty locker room and involving dancing to live radio, wrestling and silly humour, the two men show off their athletic skills and mock each other constantly. But is childish really the new macho, and are we supposed to laugh at grown men making complete fools of themselves? Despite the long build-up, the homoerotic ending felt out of place and left me rather puzzled. Norway’s Boys in Sync (Jakob Schnack Krog, Jay Fiskerstrand and Simon Zeller attempts to challenge modern-day boyishness and the norms of performance. There’s a spark of cheekiness as the three young dancers – beautiful, tireless – face us in the fully lit events room of a church and bombard us with self-revelatory confessions, after performing some sports exercises. But the ideas never quite unfold, and the show leaves us with a sense of disorientation – which, in fact, might be an accurate impression of their young generation.