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Ballet legend Dupuy returns

EVEN now she displays a grace that belies her years, an enthusiasm and aesthetic inventiveness that have become her trademark.

Four-and-a-half decades ago, the acclaimed French dancer/ choreographer Francoise Dupuy - a co-founder of the Ballets Modernes de Paris - brought her company to the Capital to perform at the 1958 Edinburgh International Festival.

Earlier this month, at the age of 78, the veteran of contemporary dance returned to choreograph her latest work for Tabula Rasa Dance Company’s new show Vis a Vis/Face to Face.

The result can be seen this Saturday when Edinburgh-based Tabula Rasa take to the stage of the Traverse.

Company founder Claire Penaak admits that she is thrilled to be performing a piece by the dance legend.

"It was a fantastic experience because it is quite unusual as a dancer to be able to ask a choreographer to make a solo for you.

"I met Francoise and her husband at a workshop festival in London three years ago and then went back to work with them the following year.

"When I first approached her and asked if she would make a solo for me I said ‘I don’t mind if it’s an old piece which is reconstructed because in a way that is interesting too.’ But she insisted on making a new piece."

Vis a Vis/Face to Face: A Solo Dance Recital features three solo performances. A Long And Winding Road (Un Si Long Chemin) by Dupuy was inspired by a poem by Emily Dickinson, and creates a succession of images and emotions that pass from tension to tenderness, sensuality to suffocation.

Penaak explains: "Translated, the French title actually means ‘So Long Away,’ but I didn’t like that. We use a huge amount of fabric in the show, either flat out like a pathway or in a spiral configuration. The whole dance is about the dancer’s relationship to this cloth.

"This cloth could be all things, people you meet life, the roads we travel. It’s this soloist’s journey and her relationship with how she goes through life. The cloth represents that in a very simple way."

The other two pieces that complete the show are Feuille D’Automneare by Frank McConnell and Tathaich by Penaak herself. In her own work, the ominous tolling of a bell heralds an evocative dance in which a woman is haunted by an invisible presence.

McConnell’s seasonal Feuille D’Automne, danced to the wistful adagio from Beethoven’s Archduke Trio, evokes autumn, wide skies and day-dreaming. She says: "Tathaich actually means ‘the Haunting’ or ‘a strange and mysterious sound.’ So the music I have chosen to use is all very ancient Scottish music played on old horns. It’s very atmospheric.

"The final piece by Frank McConnell is, like all the pieces, about solitude and the worlds we go into in our imaginations when we are on our own."

And for those who might not normally think of dance as the obvious night out, Penaak promises: "It’s not one of those vibrant, high-dynamic, leg-kicking numbers. It’s more a relaxed and contemplative evening of dance."

It’s time to chill out.

Traverse 1, Cambridge Street, Saturday, 8.00pm, 10 (6/4)

 
 
 

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