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Edinburgh International Festival - Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu

'On Danse'

by Lea Marshall

August 2007 -- Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland

In the sense that “On Danse” sets out to emulate a lush piece of 18th century entertainment through fantastical imagery and lovely dancing, it succeeds. Using a seamless combination of live dancing and video imagery enhanced by computer animation, Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu gives us goats, horses, frogs, giant bunnies, living statuary, rearing lions, and groups of floating naked people soaring through the sky, among many other virtual creatures with whom the real dancers interact, on two levels of stage.

The dancing, set to the sprightly music of 18th century composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, encompasses breakdance, modern, African, pointe work – something for everyone. Most of it is a pleasure to watch on the skilled, enthusiastic performers. A series of solos in which dancers discuss their attraction to dancing seems alternately pensive or silly, with lines such as “I try to get out of my body” or “Dance is cosmic.” The piece works best when it does not attempt profundity, but gallops along with the elephants, peacocks and frolicking nudes on screen. Forty-five minutes of this, however, would have worked just as well as ninety, and would perhaps have left us wanting more.

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