Edinburgh International Festival: 4 dance highlights for 2019

Scotsman dance critic Kelly Apter picks the most exciting dance acts coming to this year's Edinburgh International Festival
Hard to be Soft PIC: Edinburgh International FestivalHard to be Soft PIC: Edinburgh International Festival
Hard to be Soft PIC: Edinburgh International Festival

Kalakuta Republik

Inspired by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and his lifetime of political activism, choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly has created a work of two distinct halves that’s wild at heart, with a wonderful sense of chaos and rebellion. Coulibaly grew up in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, then moved to France and danced with the likes of Alain Platel and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui before founding Faso Danse Théatre. It’s a combination that makes perfect sense when you see the dancers in Kalakuta Republik move to an unrelenting musical beat that sweeps them – and us – up


The Lyceum, 8-11 August

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A relatively new and increasingly sought-after name in the dance world, Oona Doherty brings her powerful four-part work to the Edinburgh International Festival. Having looked around at the men and women she grew up with in Belfast, after moving there from London at the age of ten, Doherty recognised how difficult it was for them to show vulnerability. Featuring Doherty and other dancers, Hard to Be Soft: A Belfast Prayer captures that toughness, and a need for tenderness in a world where the rough edges hold you together.

Royal Lyceum, 21-24 August

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Chinese choreographer Yang Liping worked closely with Academy Award-winning designer Tim Yip for her interpretation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, with remarkable results. Responding to the idea of sacrifice and the creative power of spring, the duo built a show that grabs you visually from the moment you take your seat. With the performers already on stage before the audience enters, and aspects of the set being assembled before our eyes, we set off on a journey that sees Liping’s 15 dancers deliver a physically gruelling but captivating 75 minutes. A new musical score by He Xuntian underlines the dance’s mysticism.

Festival Theatre, 22-24 August

A groundbreaking force in American post-modern dance, Trisha Brown spent almost six decades redefining what constitutes dance. Two years after her death, Brown’s company is utilising three stunning spaces at Jupiter Artland to stage a selection of her short works. During the promenade performance, audiences will start on floating rafts at Charles Jencks’ water sculptures, before being led into a forest clearing then deep into the woodland to watch nine dancers execute Brown’s choreography. Dance and nature in harmony – what could be more beautiful?

Jupiter Artland, 9-11 August

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