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Dance Review: NordDance Triple Bill ****

Lorna Irvine reviews a mini festival of impressive work.

Morag Deyes, the wonderful woman who is Dance Base's Artistic Director in Edinburgh, has long championed esoteric and challenging dance from all over the world. Now she has curated this mini dance festival, which works as a cultural exchange. Artists from Scotland have developed and performed work in Iceland and Finland, and now Nordic dancers are here in Edinburgh.

Without A Hitch performed by Room 2 Manoeuvre is a work in progress, and looks like an immensely satisfying piece. Four B-boys, led by British dancer/choreographer Tony Mills using his alter-ego Tony Thrills explore through wild freestyling and giddy ensemble work the increasingly bitter rivalry between the crew. They each give a brag and a solo, before being dissed by the others in a hilarious film montage parody. Charismatic and funny, it nonetheless has a lot to say about the laddish personas adopted in hip-hop culture, and masculinity in general. Camille O' Sullivan's cover of Nick Cave's People Ain't No Good will never sound the same again.

Juck, performed by the Swedish urban troupe also called Juck, is a provocation, a rich exploration of feminism and sexuality. Juck is Swedish for 'hump'. In these times, where both Beyonce (the diva who once sang Cater To You) and Malala Yousafzai (the champion of female agency and education) are both considered feminists, this feels like one incredibly powerful and timely statement. Accoutrements of childhood innocence, like bubbles and gobstoppers are deployed to startling effect. Bubbles are waved around the room, then the five dancers, dressed in archetypal Britney Spears type schoolgirl uniforms, come into the audience, noisily chew gobstoppers, suck lollipops and stare out males in the crowd. Up close, eye to eye. It is uncomfortable as hell; the man next to me looks pretty terrified. They start to dance, short, stabbing motions from the groin, emulating the machismo of rappers, before crashing to the floor and freestyling in a suggestive way. They look completely in control, glowering out like a gang.

Lolita meets Riot Grrrl, it's one which divides the audience, but feels extremely vital, posing important questions about the male gaze in audiences, female performance itself, and the unnecessary branding of young girls as sexual objects in society. Juck are dishing it back.

Nobody Likes A Pixelated Squid by Canadian/Swedish duo Tentacle Tribe is an utterly mesmerising and hypnotic piece, which feels like a sci-fi film by David Cronenberg bursting into life. Emmanuelle LePhan and Elon Hoglund, aka Cleopatra and Wandering Spirit, tentatively move like robots, glitching and falling in on themselves. They solo and then work together, mirroring in slow-mo or sudden furious bursts of popping and spinning. Limbs pop up in unexpected places as they grope towards meaning, and each other. Moody, elegant and sensual, it's a routine in three movements. Now bonded, a massive length of yarn is woven between them like a cat's cradle, or crocheted umbilical cord, but the spotlight won't stay still and rules keep shifting. Urban dance is reduced right down to its individual components here, and the result is an ethereal, otherwordly and very beautiful look at the vagaries of human interaction. Heartwarming and sexy on a cold winter's night in Edinburgh.

"Nobody Likes a Pixelated Squid" by Tentacle Tribe:

Tags: dance

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