Dance review: May I Speak About Dance?, Summerhall

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Watching Boaz Barkan perform is a bit like hearing a friend talk about a great party they attended but you didn’t.

May I Speak About Dance?, Summerhall (Venue 26) ***

It’s engaging, fun to hear about, but leaves you wishing you’d experienced the real thing.

Israeli-born, Copenhagen-based choreographer Barkan is a mine of information about dance history. He sits on a chair chatting amiably about French choreographer Jerome Bel and American post-modern dance artist Yvonne Rainer, both known for their experimentation and rejection of mainstream dance culture.

But it’s his passion for the late Japanese performance artist Tatsumi Hijikata that really lights Barkan up. One of the founding fathers of Butoh, Hijikata caused quite a stir in the 1960s, particularly with his 1968 work Revolt of the Flesh, which Barkan partially re-creates here with the help of silent on-stage partner, Jørgen Callesen.

• READ MORE: Dance interview: Akram Khan on Xenos, his WWI-inspired show for the Edinburgh International Festival

As Callesen moves, slowly, deliberately in the Butoh style, Barkan delivers a running (rather disparaging) commentary from the audience. What does it mean? What are the references? With a handful of Post-it notes, he attempts to clarify both. For those with a prior knowledge of dance and the wider culture that influences it, May I Speak About Dance? is witty, diverting and educational. For those without, finding a hook may prove challenging.

• Until 12 August, 7:20pm