Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Festival Theatre

Cedar Lake is a small company based in New York for the last ten years and founded by arts philanthropist Nancy Laurie of the Wal-Mart dynasty. The company made its first visit to the UK last year at Sadlers Wells in London and have returned this year on a mini UK tour which includes their first ever time in Scotland. As a relatively unknown company then, it isn’t surprising the theatre isn’t even half full; however the rapturous reception they received will give them a good base to build on for future tours. At the question and answer session after the show, Interim Artistic Director Alexandra Damiani and two of her dancers confirmed that they “loved Edinburgh” and would most definitely come back.

There are three pieces in this show – Indigo Rose, Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue and Necessity Again. Indigo Rose by Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian was first created for Nederland Dans Teater 2 in 1998. Some that have seen both companies perform this work say Cedar Lake brings an essentially New York element to it, a sassy and fresh vibe. The dancers create shapes and poses with jerky but co-ordinated movements to a repetitive electronic beat. The music changes to classical and into a more balletic style – not the big balletic leaps of classical ballet, this stays firmly on terra firma but is no less stunning in its physicality and skill. A huge diagonal white curtain sweeps across the stage like a sail. The lighting is stunning, creating shadows and silhouettes which give it a darker side but also some moments of humour. The only thing which didn’t quite work for me was the huge screen projections in the background which I found a bit distracting.

Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite was my personal favourite. A semicircle of floodlights surround and illuminate the dancers as they twist and turn in wonderfully flowing movements to the spellbinding music of Cliff Martinez from the soundtrack of the film Solaris. It all looks effortless but belies a huge amount of skill and effort to bring it off.
The third piece Necessity Again by Jo Stromgren is a much quirkier work, featuring the songs of Charles Aznavour, a voiceover of French philosopher Jacques Derrida, and a huge amount of paper being thrown across the stage. It is a piece of contrasts – lively and humorous in the main but there is also a darker element, particularly in the sex scene where three men and a woman writhe to the sound of Aznavour singing Ave Maria. Yes, it was a bit weird.
This is a talented young company featuring dancers from across the globe as well as home grown New Yorkers. Look out for them on their next visit, they are worth it.

Irene Brownlee