Under the guidance of artistic director Ashley Page, Scottish Ballet has been enjoying renewed buoyancy as one of Britain’s most exciting dance companies, a confidence that has come to the fore at its last few Edinburgh International Festival appearances. This year’s triple bill – which oscillates sharply between the dynamic and the mundane - opens with the world premiere of Stephen Petronio’s much hyped Ride the Beast (3 stars).
Set to five songs by Radiohead, Petronio’s piece is, initially, jarring as the well-known tunes seem to have little reflection on the actual choreography. However, Ride the Beast soon rescues itself through flashes of energy, vibrancy and moments of potent sexuality. The ultimate effect is unexpectedly exhilarating, though the piece as a whole appears to put style above substance.
In severe contrast, Trisha Brown’s For MG: The Movie (2 stars), delivers a rather underwhelming choreographic offering set against the backdrop of abandoned buildings. Its slow, repetitive movements, and a few noticeable mistakes, make the piece mentally and physically draining rather than positively challenging. This, coupled with the set’s muted tones, serve to create a frustrating tautness that simply manifests itself in widespread audience restlessness.
Thankfully, the evening is saved by the exuberance of Ashley Page’s award-winning Fearful Symmetries (4 stars). In a piece that overflows with enthusiasm, Page takes John Adam’s vigorous score and translates it into a perfect choreographic blend of classical excellence and contemporary innovation. Consequently, this engaging piece is sure to seal his – and, with it, Scottish Ballet’s – status as one of the dance world’s finest talents.