POP-UP Duets (fragments of love)

August 26, 2016 | By | Reply More

✭✭✭✭✩    Wonderful

National Museum of Scotland (Venue 179) 4 – 28 August 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

POP-UP Duets, Janis Claxton’s series of nine dances on the theme of love at various locations in the National Museum in Chambers Street, is refreshing, beautiful and an excellent idea all round.

Claxton’s choreography is varied and attractive, with the four dancers – James Southward, Christine Liddell, Carlos J Martinez and Adrienne O’Leary – doing it more than justice.

Carlos J Martinez and Christina Liddell Photo Roy Campbell Moore

Carlos J Martinez and Christina Liddell Photo Roy Campbell Moore

There is an opening duet between Southward and O’Leary where they appear out of the crowd to conduct a gently flirtatious and touching evocation of mutual discovery; a playfully sinuous performance from Liddell and O’Leary; a display of effortless, passionate athleticism from Martinez and Southward – the nine duets feature every possible combination of the four.

Perhaps the highlight is a piece performed by Martinez and O’Leary to a distorted flamenco soundtrack that simply bursts with joy; but it is up to personal preference whether it is the depictions of dreamy lyrical love or apparently forbidden passion that will appeal most.

Pippa Murphy’s soundtrack is always apt and attractive, with some singing by Scottish Album of the Year winner Kathryn Joseph. The whole thing is thoroughly accessible, and thankfully nothing is remotely as gimmicky as the very odd punctuation of the title.

decidedly impressive

Although it is described as a ‘site specific’ performance, there is no real feeling that it could only happen in this location. But close up, with no lighting, stage or any kind of theatrical distance, the effect is enchanting. The grace and athleticism – not to mention the gender-blind nature of the lifting and movement – are decidedly impressive.

It is certainly possible to see all of the dances as they move through the building, starting in Hawthornden Court at the George IV Bridge end of the museum and moving on a journey that is easy to follow. Under those circumstances, however, there is an irresistible temptation to place on the sequence a narrative that is not really there.

It must be even better as a genuine ‘pop-up’. Certainly there are many who seem to find the dancing entirely by accident – perhaps from the balconies above that cavernous main hall – and remain, mesmerised by what is happening. In an ideal world something like this would happen in the museum – and hundreds of others – every week of the year. In the real world, we have to take such fragments of joy when we find them.

Running time: 50 minutes
National Museum of Scotland (Venue 179), Chambers Street, EH1 1JF
Thursday 4 – Sunday 28 August 2016 (not 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23)
3.30 pm
Free, unticketed
More information on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/pop-up-duets-fragments-of-love
Museum website: http://www.nms.ac.uk/duets
Artist website: http://www.janisclaxton.com
Facebook: popupduets
Twitter: @janisclaxton

ENDS

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