Homme/Animal (4 stars)

This article is from 2014


Choreographer Vendetta Mathea' latest is exactly what late night Fringe dance should be

The animal in us all is topic du jour at this year’s Fringe, from Circa’s irreverent toying with bunny heads in Beyond to Czech choreographer Lenka Vagnerová’s untamed she-wolf La Loba. In Homme/Animal, from US-born choreographer Vendetta Mathea, the exploration is more cerebral and instinctive, as she digs deep into her dancers’ bodies to dredge up movement that connects us to beasts while raising us above them in dexterity and style.

From the moment Mathea appears onstage – curving gentle patterns with her legs, arms light as blown feathers – it is clear this is going to be an electrifying hour. Swooping, unfurling, she plays upon her body with the spontaneity of a musician, melting into the timbre of the score’s lone stringed instrument.

But it is when the rest of the four-strong cast come pulsing onto the stage that the drama begins to ratchet up. Hardened earthy voices and beats anchor a fierce ritualistic dance, shifting into patterns of Zen-like focus, and out again into strong calligraphic shapes. Mathea herself sits at the sidelines, punctuating the movement with unearthly calls, yips and sobs.

The most exciting and unpredictable solos come from Link Berthomieux, who flicks himself into knots and swirls with shades of Carlos Acosta’s fiery quickness.

It does feel very slightly stretched beyond the boundaries of the ideas, and the final third might benefit from some editing down. But bold and thrilling, this is exactly what late night Fringe dance should be.

Greenside @ Nicolson Square, 0131 618 6967, until 23 Aug (not 10, 17), 11.05pm (11–16 Aug, 9.55pm), £8 (£6).

Homme | Animal

  • 4 stars

Vendetta Mathea and Co UK premiere. Homme|Animal is the animal in all of us who tries to find ways to face our complicated emotional states. 'Right into our flesh' (Arte). 'An invigorating, timeless freshness' (Danser). 'Pure dance, an opera for body and soul' (LaRep.fr). 'Impressive' (L'Humanite). 'Outstanding acting…