Impromptus, Playhouse, Edinburgh

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The splendidly named Waltz (she got the label from her parents) is normally linked with robust dance theatre, a style that figures from someone born in Germany and working in Berlin. Her last piece here, Körper (2000), was by turns unexpected, brutal, grotesque, funny - but it was dance theatre. Impromptus (2004) is, by contrast, lyrical, gentle and dancerly. It marks Waltz's debut with live classical music. Sometimes the dancers move to silence, but otherwise they move to Schubert: five piano pieces and four lieder.

Each dance has a distinct look, just as each component of the piece - visual, aural - is separate yet also interlocking. In one dance the dancers appear and disappear in a continuum of running and turning, as if swept on the rippling wind of the piano notes. Another dance focuses on semaphoring arm movements; another, a duet, on small tip-toeing steps, backwards and forwards, interrupted by prominent lifts. The performers stand on two of the tilted planes, which overlap like tectonic plates, in front of the third, vertical plane. Martin Hauk's lighting creates sculptures of geometric shadows or melancholy chiaroscuro ambiences.

There is humour, too, in the squelching entry of dancers wearing water-filled gum-boots. And there is humour with the pool that opens up in the floor, inviting women to bathe, an arc of water splashing up to herald the arc of another dancer's body. But before that the mood had turned sombre, when red paint trickled down the dancers' bodies like blood. Or maybe it was just another light-hearted game, a bout of body-painting.

You read what you choose into Impromptus. It's a piece about nothing, a piece about everything and everybody. Perhaps that is why it was the most affecting dance experience I've had in a long while.