Dilemma (4 stars)

This article is from 2013


Extraordinary dance solo through turmoil and grace, by Russian performer Olga Kosterina

Hill Street Theatre is flying solo this Fringe, offering a programme consisting entirely of shows with one performer. But while the monologue is familiar festival fodder, it’s rarer to see a dancer command the theatre alone for a full hour. Enter Russian-born choreographer, former gymnast and Fringe first-timer Olga Kosterina, rolling imperceptibly onstage, egg-like, blindfolded, bronzed by nude lighting. And as soon as she does, we know there will be nothing spartan or lacking in this extraordinary tour de force; a journey to heaven, a plunge into an elemental world.

Bandaged in flesh-toned gossamer, using swathes of fabric that range from a majestic black skirt to wisps of white chiffon, she dances mercurially in and out of states of turmoil, empowerment and grace. You can feel her sensory deprivation under that blindfold, an immersion in her own body as she tweaks a foot, turns a wide cartwheel into a runic shape.

We see flashes of things we think we recognise, before Kosterina whips them away again, too quick to tell; a classical turn, a Romany swirl? When she tosses her huge black skirt up over her shoulders into raven wings, the image, though fleeting, burns unforgettably. At last, in a simmering frenzy of Dervish whirls, she takes away her blindfold and the simple revelation of the eyes is transformed into something cathartic and powerful.

It’s a shame to see this wildness tamed as Dilemma powers towards its end, because there is something so unearthly and wonderful about Kosterina when she is at her most raw. She is a rare treasure of a Fringe-find, someone whose talent feels as if it is bursting against the seams of her venue. Catch her now, before she is on a stage too large and far away to drink in all the details.

Hill Street Theatre, 226 6522, until 25 Aug, 1pm, £11.50–£13.50 (£9.50–£11.50).


  • 4 stars

Olga Kosterina. Open your eyes! You will see our common fate.… Winner of Best Choreography at Rome Theatre Festival 2012. Dilemma combines dance, mime and acrobatics to reveal a person lost in a maze of their own fears. With elegance, precision and grace, Kosterina personifies the eternal struggle between good and evil…