Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh Playhouse

August 8 and 9th only



This is a stunning and absorbing show of about 80 minutes during which nine dancers perform intensely and continuously, and one can only marvel at their stamina. This is Holy Body Tattoo company, founded by Dana Gingras and Noam Gagnon.  The Canadian rock band God Speed You! Black Emperor provide live music behind the dancers and are barely visible through the screens engaged in ,movement of a very different kind.

The nine dancers are on plinths for the first maybe sixty per cent of the show, and while the movement is intense during this time you do feel the restriction of their position and their limited ,movement and inability to connect with the others. I did think that this section was probably too long and someone in front of me left just as the dancers were coming off the plinths. Pity, as he went just when it really took off.

There was a good deal of text as a backdrop in the early section which was sometimes quirkily platitudinous –the mouth being a meeting of our wet and dry selves struck me – but it was not always up long enough to absorb, and was inevitably a distraction from the dynamic, often frenzied, dancing.

When the dancers were down off their plinths it was rather as though they had lived without relating prior to that, and they squabbled, fought, picked on one another and seemed to see each other as threatening spectacle. The energy, skill and authority of the whole group was astonishing. The rapturous applause at the end was well deserved. The show may convey more meaning to those living in urban America, and the clothes worn, which could have been office working clothes, may suggest that here is the reality fuming beneath mundane work. Whatever, it was a bravura display of brilliant movement and richly memorable.

Tony Challis