City Breakz is a brilliant concept. We meet at Summerhall. The audience is divided into packs and we sally forth into the Meadows. A bit of a walk and you happen upon a break dancer, throwing some shapes on a chequered square of vinyl in amongst the daily hubbub of dog walkers and strollers and joggers and meanderers in Edinburgh’s heart.
We meet our first performer on a traffic island. Paris Crossley is so sinuous and supple, it’s like watching honey. If honey was super cool and danced like a dream. Then she rolls up her vinyl, wraps it around a tube, hoicks it onto her shoulder and we walk. You can follow a single performer as they explore the area. Or you can rove, seeking the chequers, the tunes and the eye-catching tracksuits.
There are four performers in total. Part of the pleasure of the performance is alighting on someone unexpectedly. Part comes from the effervescent creativity that sees the performers using bus shelters and benches as backdrops, lampposts as anchors and a tree trunk stump as a tiny impromptu stage (with a perfectly cut piece of chequered vinyl to set the scene). And it’s giddily joyful to watch the dancers playing with the space, bouncing, breaking and popping through their routines.
The music provides a buoyant coherence across the performances and performers. The sun is an added bonus. As are the reactions of the surprised passers by. Taking dance out of sometimes unapproachable venues and putting it right in front of the people feels like just what the doctor ordered after eighteen months of a pandemic. Hats off to artistic director of Room 2 Manoeuvre Tony Mills for masterminding this. Fifty minutes in, we’re guided back to base camp and the dancers come together on the Secret Courtyard stage for a mischievous, rumbunctious finale.
This performance feels like a show getting used to its surroundings – totally understandable for a one-off performance. The dancing is brilliant. The performers have an infectious energy, a delicious sense of fun and took bold advantage of all the backdrops that the Meadows offers. There isn’t any great narrative thread at play but if you’re after a sassy and spirited reminder of how phenomenal the human body can be, with a superior al fresco backdrop, you can catch City Breakz in Hawick, Dumfries and Kirkcudbright later this week. Great fun.