The Ballet Ruse, Dance Base, Edinburgh
Friday 19 August 2011
Muirne Bloomer and Emma O'Kane dreamed of being ballerinas – and did more than dream: both trained and danced with professional ballet companies. With speech, dance and gleefully rewritten ballet mime, they look back on their time in this punishing world. The movie Black Swan had melodrama and moping; Bloomer and O'Kane have solidarity, survival and a rueful good time.
As music from Giselle plays, it's clear that our heroines are stuck in the corps de ballet. They stand in fixed poses, shuffling around to provide a graceful frame for the main action. Muscles ache, noses itch, they're dying for a fag. When at last the corps get a chance to dance, they start trying to overtake each other.
Some of their experiences were damaging. They complain about their bodies in mimed gesture, hunting out any millimetre of flab. Bloomer describes her own history of bulimia. The show opens avenues that it doesn't always explore, giving it some choppy pacing.
Getting out of ballet was clearly good for them; they end with a triumphant dance to Lady Gaga, pint glasses in hand, swan headdresses askew. Yet you can see how they loved this art form in the care they still take when dancing, the knowledge they show in teasing it.
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