last Thursday represented a major first for all involved in Berwick dance company Ballet Bewegung when they journeyed up to Edinburgh for two performances at the Fringe.
The company were invited by Dancespace to perform their original piece ‘Cloudscapes’ at Heads Up- an eventknown for unearthing the stars of the future- on stage in the capital’s famous Grassmarket.
The choreographed creation was first performed at The Maltings in 2009 and its talented cast recently gave a one-off performance at a major dance event in York but for Ballet Bewegung’s talented dancers and founder Jane Keenan, the Fringe performance marked the pinnacle of the company’s short history.
Jane, from Milne Graden, near Coldstream, said she was thrilled the the cast of four, including her niece Anna from New Zealand and Berwickshire dancers Caitlin Murray and Tasmin Mackechnie, were getting the opportunity to perform at one of the world’s premier cultural gatherings.
“They are such lovely people to work with,” she enthused.
“The whole thing came about after I sent a DVD of one of the original performances to Morag, who owns Dancespace. The major difficulty was the fact that it was my students who were performing and Dancespace only feature professional dancers.
“But now I’ve got Anna and her friend Tim, who have recently graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne, on board and Tasmin and Caitlin have both been accepted into prestigious colleges- Ballet West and The Space in Dundee respectively, we’ve got ourselves a company of professionals.
“I’ve been teaching Caitlin and Tasmin since they were knee high to a grasshopper and I’m so proud of how far they’ve come. The choreography in ‘Cloudscapes’ is extremely difficult and requires an enormous amount of control but they have become more and more beautiful dancers as time has gone on.”
Jane is also celebrating her own milestone, as well as making her debut at the Fringe as a choreographer she is now head of a dance company in residence after outgoing Maltings Chief Executive, Dr Miles Gregory offered Ballet Bewegung a base at the theatre.
The ‘Cloudspace’ cast have been making full use of this so far, rehearsing in the Henry Travers Studio in the lead up to their big performances last week. I was treated to a full run through last Wednesday afternoon when the dancers were joined by the musicians they were due to share the Fringe stage with just 24 hours later.
And the music to go with the piece is a real family affair for Jane as it was composed by her husband Paul, with the band of musicians tasked with playing it assembled by her son Peter.
She continued: “I’m not just saying this because Paul composed it, but I love the music; its fits the movement so well.
“As its title suggests, ‘Cloudscapes’, is about clouds. The girls are the clouds who float freely through the sky while Tim is a human frustrated at being confined to the earth.
“I’m so excited about the show being at the Fringe. I’ve been asked to take things up to the festival on numerous occasions so to finally be there is amazing.
“As is the opportunity to be The Maltings dance company in residence
“ I’ve been teaching in the area for 20 years and to now have my own dance company is fantastic- it’s something I’ve wanted since being a little girl.”
Aspirations of making it big in the dance world are also held by Caitlin and Tasmin and when I spoke to them last week they were gripped by Fringe fever.
Caitlin, from Greenhead, just north of Eyemouth told ‘The Guide’: “This is probably the biggest thing I’ve done so far. I performed at the Fringe with the Maltings Youth Theatre a few years ago but this is a completely different ball game. I’m just really, really excited. I’m also looking forward to going to The Space. I’d love to make a career out of dance and performance- as long as there is a stage and an audience I’ll be happy!”
Tasmin added: “It’s great to be performing at the Fringe, particularly as part of the Heads Up programme. A couple of my friends have moved up to Edinburgh for uni so they’re going to come along and see me and my family are all pretty chuffed for me too.”