Stadium rescues Edinburgh festival dance performances

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THE HASTY conversion of a sports pitch at Meadowbank stadium into a venue for contemporary dance has helped save some of the performances at this year's Edinburgh Festival put in jeopardy by a fire at the city's Playhouse Theatre, writes James Cusick.

The Mark Morris Dance Group, from New York, will go ahead with its first programme at Meadowbank.

Negotiations were still being held last night between the owners of the Playhouse Theatre, Apollo Leisure UK Ltd, and the festival's director, Brian McMaster. At stake were performances by the Welsh National Opera and the Canadian Opera Company. Part of the rear of the Playhouse was destroyed in the arson attack.

The interior of the theatre, which had almost completed the first stage of a pounds 4m renovation, was damaged by smoke. Fire chiefs have declared the auditorium safe and the festival organisers still want to stage events which have attracted 12,000 advance bookings.

The festival faced a loss of pounds 450,000 if all the performances were cancelled. Mr McMaster said that he was delighted that the performances on 17, 18, and 19 August had been saved.