Festival Dance

Vuelos

Church Hill Theatre

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Mary Brennan

three stars

A WOMAN in flowing red robes is standing in front of a pale back-cloth when, suddenly, two huge, black feathery wings spread out behind her on the curtain – as if, perhaps, she’d wished them into being. Just as swiftly they shrink away, and instead two huge shadow hands – fingers outspread like an echo of wings – close in on her. . . Visually striking, the images are, like so much else in Vuelos, a skilfully-crafted encouragement for the imagination to go into a free-fall of its own associations.

As a child-friendly piece of dance-theatre, Vuelos ("flight" in Spanish) avoids dogmatic narrative either in the choreography or the mise-en-scene: instead the emphasis is on presenting a kind of living picture-book where the props, costumes and movement centre on mankind’s ever-present longing to fly unaided, like the birds. There are moments of playfulness – a bright red balloon flits upwards, its former handler stays grounded – and moments where the influencing ideas and artwork of Leonardo da Vinci come centre-stage, not least when a long supper table brings the dancers together and shared thoughts become projections on the over-hanging table-cloth.

Whether it’s in the fabulous wings that the five dancers occasionally don, or the galloping liberation of being on a sketchy (animation) horse, director Enrique Cabrera and his Aracaladanza troupe are dealing throughout with the stuff of fantasies and dreams. And if Vuelos doesn’t have the same surreal brio and comedic appeal of Constellations – performed during Edinburgh’s Imaginate festival in May 2016 – it nonetheless has a poetic charm, and some pleasing visual trickery that’s all done by mirrors.