Innovations Contemporary Dance Platform Autumn – The Studio

Produced by Dance Horizons

Creative Direction by Oliver James Anwyl

Nearing its tenth anniversary, the Edinburgh-based Dance Horizons has strived forth with the initiative to encourage and mentor a diverse and emerging root of talent across the UK, and internationally. Looking to welcome all into the industry, their collection of pieces is designed to nurture and trial ideas, encouraging a safe environment for premiere pieces.

Their platform for these performances, Innovations, is currently presenting seasonal editions throughout the year – and this evening their Autumn showcase opens at The Studio, Potterrow in association with Capital Theatres, running until Saturday, November 12th. Growing since 2014, creative director Oliver James Anwyl has manifested a collective home, an umbrella production company, to offer choreographers and dance artists an initial area of output and access to audiences.

This evening finds another four pieces performed for eager audiences – from homegrown Scottish producers, who share the space with companies from Austria, Sweden, and Spain, and what they may differ in locale and method, they share in a determination and beguiling lustre of creativity.

Skeletons Nice

Choreography by Barnaby Booth
Artistic Direction by Hector Palacious

Performed for the first time outside its home country, Scottish audiences are in for a rare and insightful treat with Trak Dance Ensemble’s compact duet on the inevitable: the ultimate inescapable reality. 

Barnaby Booth’s choreography and Hector Palacious’ artistry take inspiration from Edward Albee’s Virginia Wolf and contrastingly, though fitting for this performance, David Eagleman’s short story, Search. Together, the dance attempts (and largely succeeds) in capturing the what’s and feelings of being trapped.

Chartering a pulsating sense of motion from cradle to grave, Skeletons Nice celebrates everything in the messy world of the betwixt and between. Where Booth’s focus is honed into the more human and mortal essence of movement, not directly synched to the precision of rhythm, Palacious’ artistic direction frames the movement through the restrictions we impose on ourselves – whether it be situational, or physical.

Skeletons Nice garners momentum from the shared experience with the audience, the ebb and flow move dancers Jadwiga Mordaska and Mate Asbot across the entirety of the stage – making full use of the space presented. The pair have a natural flow through one another, predicting and reactionary to one another’s movements and breath.

A Fragile Geography State

Choreography by Daniel Navarro Lorenzo

As we gradually grow more aware of the influence of the state, and the control exerted upon our daily lives – there seems to be even less resistance to push against a world of power, finance, and fear. And in a non-disclosed location, where citizens live in a false bound reality where their expressed freedoms fail to truly exist, Daniel Navarro-Lorenzo’s A Fragile Geography: State has the most significant potential of all four pieces.

Harkening back to a sense of folk, traditional dance and freedom of expression, these long-since forgotten memories from previous generations form a foundation for dancer Anna Borrâs Picó and Navarro-Lorenzo to re-discover this sense of human emotion. They manage to communicate a world in which their motions and connection feel authentic but is anything but.

The issue is, Navarro-Lorenzo’s choreography is perhaps too entwined within the idea of the automated, stripping much of the piece’s emotional turmoil away – conjuring a distinctly tangible sense of artificial pathos. The mixture of lighting, though still limited (a recurring theme through the evening), doesn’t help in creating an indistinguishable sequence of events and movement – as dancer Borrâs Picó joins Lorenzo onstage.

The choreography itself does expertly mimic this sense of automated artificiality, but its emotions of apathy make it restrictive in connecting with the audience – despite its keen premise.

CIunas Gan Uaigneas

Choreography by Malcolm Sutherland

In terms of choreographed technique, Malcolm Sutherland’s choreography and stage management are the tightest of the four pieces, with Ciunas Gan Uaigneas being a triumph of this Autumnal showcase, a pristine measure of tight movement direction, and dedication from the dancers.

It asks powerful questions as a trio of dancers emerge into a realm where they seek answers to isolation and solitude – but paradoxically also champion the importance of silence, respectful solitude and self-imposed reflection. It’s a clever and at times remarkably deep performance which is expertly carried by Sutherland, Molly Dainter and Jorja Follina (with Sakura Inoue replacing Dainter the following evening).

An abstract infusion creates a swift and intense connection with the audience, even if they don’t immediately find coherency in the movement’s method of communication. As the world surrounding our dancers quickens and time shortens in the space of contemplation and instant need for gratification and rejection of time for ourselves. These brief moments of realisation in the choreography, cuts in the juttering and more streamlined movements, almost to escape, are futile in a world where the battle has already been lost. These quieter, and more natural movements and periods of self-reflection and communications collapse inward, culminating in an inability to connect. Thus, our trio begin to deteriorate. It’s remarkably complex to achieve in such a short amount of time – so major props to Sutherland and the entire team.

And though there is a definitive sense of movement, aspects of the three-hander piece begin to segment in places – and though multiple performance aspects are nothing untoward, issues arise where one aspect begins to distract from something audiences can miss out on. It’s the only real drawback of the piece, where the trio begin to pair off and leave one behind – their synchronicity faltering as audiences flitter between the two unfolding stories.


Created & Prrformed by Anna Borras Pico & Daniel Navarro Lorenzo

To lay bare the extent of human emotion is a never-ending endeavour for artists; to see it from multiple avenues and mindsets is neigh impossible. But the brilliance of Indra Dance Company’s Exhale is that we, the audience, are tasked with internalising the rawness of it all and utilise the infinite capabilities we possess to challenge perception and come to the bittersweet conclusion that though surrounded by stimuli and overcrowded scenes, we are alone in many aspects.

Exhale’s vulnerability makes it a trifle difficult for audiences to initially engage with, but similarly, if one trusts the inner voice of both their curiosity and has faith in Navarro-Lorenzo’s choreography, Exhale is a charming and nuanced piece of movement. As such, the connection and coming together of Borrâs Picó has a much more tangible presence and necessity – their chemistry and duet sequences far tighter and more impressive throughout. 

A Rousing Success Of Hopeful Game-Changers

Innovations Contemporary Dance Platform Autumn Edition runs at The Studio, Potterrow until November 12th.

Tickets for which may be obtained here.

For further information relating to Innovations Dance Platform, please visit their website here.


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