A wheezing elderly bandsman practises his one moment of glory with the cymbals to a tape of the rehearsal piece before his fellow amateur players arrive. With Tatiesque observation, the chairs are noisily clacked in to place by the early arrivals and slowly the buffoonery starts.
The Belgian contemporary dance collective, a ballet company with no ballerinas with the aptly Magrittesque name les ballets C de la B, makes its Edinburgh début with their latest piece of radical musical theatre.
En Avant, Marche! peeks behind the formality of uniforms and exposes the human beings with their foibles. It is a delightfully anarchic unbuttoning of what lies beneath the façade of order performed with humour and levity in an entertaining metaphor for life.
The company’s inclusive philosophy allows not just an eclectic choice of recognised music from Elgar and Holst to Sister Sledge and Abba but incorporates leftfield methods of casting. For this show, local brass bands are used as they tour. In keeping with the company’s philosophy, they exemplify community spirit and the bringing together of a range of age groups. In this case it is the Dalkeith and Monktonhall Band who provide beautiful round swooping sounds as they step to a finely choreographed slow circular march. The band members are asked their occupations by Wim Opbrouck in a casual and pleasant exposure of the real lives behind the disguise of costume though the surtitled version of sexting between him and Chris Thys may have subsequently caused some discomfort!
This multi lingual performance takes place against a big backdrop of beaten bronze with random rectangular black gaps where some whacky action takes place over the piece. There is a surreal joy in the conducting of the slow donning of uniforms at one end of the spectrum with the strutting of the gold laméd overtly sexual older cheerleaders at the other. From carnival abandon to a group of Presbyterian like Morris men this unusual show exemplifies the disconnect between appearances and realities.
les ballets C de la B believe in uniting not dividing, while respecting the individual and remind us music can come from anything and be anywhere. Who could argue with that? A call to Forward March! fae the guid folk o Flanders is one to be followed.
Inspired by the performances of En Avant, Marche! EIF organised a city-wide day of free performances on Sunday 23rd August called Fanfare involving Scotland’s brass bands.
24-25August at 8pm