Dance, physical theatre and circus review: Éowyn Emerald & Dancers

For fans of pure, unadulterated dance, American choreographer Éowyn Emerald is almost providing a public service.

Eowyn Emerald and Dancers - Greenside
Eowyn Emerald and Dancers - Greenside

Star rating: ****

Venue: Greenside @ Royal Terrace (Venue 231)

There’s no shortage of movement at the Fringe, but very little in the way of straight down the line, well-choreographed, well-executed modern dance. So it’s to hearty applause that for the third time, Éowyn Emerald & Dancers has left behind its home in Portland, Oregon and journeyed to Edinburgh.

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With them comes a tasty box of delights that both entertains and moves. Opening piece Trinary plays with colour in unexpected and amusing ways. Three dancers dressed in red, green and blue (or are they?) change colour before our eyes, as clever lighting design floods the space. Wearing matching woolly hats, jumpers and leggings, they’re almost like characters from children’s television, but there’s nothing child-like about their performance.

There’s something unashamedly upbeat about Sugared, a trio set to big band music that gives jazz dance an almost balletic edge. Fun, flirty and slick, it’s the kind of piece we rarely see outside musical theatre – and in the hands of such competent technical dancers, is a sugary treat indeed.

In a consistently strong line-up, a highlight emerges in the form of Blurred – a powerful duet between Emerald herself and Josh Murray.

The emotions run deep in this troubled but ultimately strong relationship, and we’re privy to every single one of them. It’s a passionate tale of rip and repair, as their love is stretched to breaking point, then re-kindled. Just when you think it’s all over, their bodies find each other again and remember what they’re missing. It would be exciting to see what Emerald could do with a larger space and bigger budget, but even within these confines she makes fine use of music, lighting and costume – proving she is indeed a Fringe gem.

Until 27 August. Today 1:50pm.