In its seventh annual appearance at the Fringe, Booking Dance Festival is a dance festival within a festival, here for only a short run.
Showcasing three international dance companies from producer Jodi Kaplan, the audience witnesses a range of styles in a bite-sized format. Contemporary, multi-cultural and high energy hip-hop are the styles on offer this year.
Versa-Style Dance Company from Los Angeles present three different hip-hop pieces. With choreography from its founders Jackie Lopez and Leigh Foaad, Legacy uses eight dancers, including Lopez and Foaad, to explore the dance styles of Cuban Rueda, Salsa, West African, Rumba and Afro-Cuban.
The best piece, using a multi-media backdrop featuring old dance movies from the 1900s including Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis Jr and Sr, explores how many of the great dance masters took their inspiration from different dance styles, exhibiting the origins of street dance.
Whilst they are energetic “edutainment” with lots of body popping, their other pieces Alone and Box of Hope sadly don’t have anything in particular that differentiates them.
Jeanette Stoner and Dancers, from New York, present four different pieces. Featuring two dancers, Chase Booth and Peter Davis, who collaborate with Stoner on the choreography, this is at the abstract edge of contemporary dance. And possibly a bit too abstract for your average audience.
Wheel features Booth interacting with a wheel, whilst in Numinous, Booth, hidden by a piece of green fabric, morphs around the stage. Not a lot else really happens. Just So, with dancing by Peter Davis is another pointless dance piece, set to music by Beethoven, using gold fabric in a playful romp. Part 5 of Deep Past/Ancient Memories sees Booth, dressed like a monk, bouncing on a trampette. Just plain weird.
The last company, Metamorphosis Dance Company represents a move away from Kaplan’s usual format of presenting just US companies. From Trinidad and Tobago, in f(x), three dancers, present a mix of contemporary dance, fusing ballet, modern, jazz in a Caribbean context. It’s OK, but not the professional high standard seen from other companies in previous years.
The finale, a flash mob street dance, is a mash-up with all the dance companies performing, along with Kaplan and her confident 11 year old niece, Tova Love Kaplan, (billed as responsible for marketing). This was a fun end to an overall lacklustre show.
Kaplan has brought 50 different companies to the Fringe over the seven years and there have been some truly memorable gems but this year’s programme really didn’t gel.