Review – Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Oct 12 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Beautifully athletic

Indigo Rose, choreographed by Jiři Kylián features some particularly effective staging.

Indigo Rose. Photo © Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

Festival Theatre
Fri 11 – Sat 12 October 2013
Review by Hugh Simpson

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s first visit to Scotland under the auspices of Dance Consortium is a definite success.

Now ten years old, this New York-based company features dancers from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities. The cast rotates throughout the tour, but here there were fourteen performers on show: strikingly different but all athletic, accomplished and likeable.

The programme includes three pieces from the company’s repertory, each showcasing a different choreographer and all three showing as much attention to detail in the overall theatrical effect as in the movement, with Jim French’s lighting being particularly strong.

The opening piece, Indigo Rose, choreographed by Jiři Kylián features some particularly effective staging. What appears at first to be a narrow beam of light projected diagonally across the stage is in fact a wire on which a sheet of silk cloth is later suspended, partitioning the stage and allowing for some ingenious shadowplay. In front of the cloth the dancing is sinuous, athletic and energetic. The music is a clever mix of baroque and modern, with the movement similarly a combination of the fluid and the everyday, with elegant lines often ending in comic or commonplace gestures. The only false note is struck by an overlong film sequence at the conclusion, which reinforces without much subtlety themes of control and freedom effortlessly suggested earlier by simple gestures.

Crystal Pite’s Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue is the highlight of the evening. Five dancers enact constantly changing duets inside a circle of lights which suggests a crime scene or a prison courtyard. There is no overarching narrative, but there are eloquent, beautiful moments of interdependence, desperation, manipulation and tenderness in a piece which lasts just over a quarter of an hour but seems to be finished in the blink of an eye.  The only criticism here would be that the music, taken from the soundtrack of the American remake of Solaris, is not the strongest, and is completely overshadowed by the dancing.

Straightforwardly joyful and exhilarating dance

Necessity, Again. Photo © Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

This is certainly not the case in the final piece of the evening, Necessity, Again, choreographed by Jo Strømgren. This uses the voice of Jacques Derrida, intercut with the songs of Charles Aznavour. The inhabitants of a paper-strewn office react to the deconstructionist’s words with a silent incomprehension, while the slightly cheesy French crooner inspires them to wild abandon.

The sound here is perhaps too intrusive, and the contrast between the two sections, once made, threatens to become repetitive. However, this section never outstays its welcome and does feature the evening’s most straightforwardly joyful and exhilarating dance, which highlight’s the company’s daring and athletic style – not least because they are in constant danger of slipping on the hundreds of sheets of paper coating the stage.

In a company which is so uniformly excellent, it is a little unfair to single out individuals, but Jon Bond has a natural performer’s ability to connect with the audience, while Ebony Williams’ magnificent athleticism and range of movement command the eye.

The overall programme is perhaps designed to showcase as much of the company’s abilities and versatility as possible rather than being a completely satisfying whole; the first two pieces are a little similar in atmosphere and staging, and the evening reaches its peak too early. Nevertheless, this is a tremendous evening’s entertainment which received a justifiably enthusiastic response from an audience who will all be hoping that Cedar Lake make a return visit before long.

Running time 2 hrs
Run ends Saturday 13 October, then touring
Evenings 7.30 pm
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Tickets and further details from:
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet website:

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet on tour

15 – 16 Oct Edinburgh
Festival Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
18 – 19 Oct Bradford
01274 432 000 Book online
15 – 16 Oct Leicester
Curve Theatre
01162 423 595 Book online
21 – 24 Nov Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv Opera House
Book online
26 – 28 Nov Winterthur, Switzerland
Theater Winterthur
Book online
30 Nov Zug, Switzerland
Theater Casino Zug
Book online


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