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REVIEW: The Dance Trail, Brighton Fringe, 07/05/17

The Verse’s Alex Berdugo reviews The Dance Trail – one of 950 shows taking place during this year’s Brighton Fringe

Upon reaching Montpelier Place Baptist Church, The Dance Trail crew were not all visible. Instead, one member stood holding a sign indicating that we were currently on the border of Brighton and Hove and asked us to form a line in front of her. We were given a map of the route were we to take to view each segment of the event, essentially a beeline straight for the seafront of Hove.

Music began to play from a portable speaker, a charming reminder that a Brighton Fringe event does not necessarily have to be high budget. The Dance Trail cast emerged from around the corner of the church, forming various poses and using the building’s features as props for their routine. All but two dancers left to take position at their respective areas, leaving all focus on the remaining members.

Their routine was diverse and gripped our attention. They acted out conflict, resolution, and conflict again in a rollercoaster of choreography. I was pressed against a wall of a narrow alleyway as the dancers twirled, jumped and fought around me. It was clear that they were demonstrating how borders can divide us, that co-operation is the only was to progress in our conflicting society. The motions of the two cast members led us to the third site.

We sat on the steps of an open public park in Hove, where two members of The Dance Trail hid behind two solitary trees. They were acting as siblings, highlighting rivalry and a struggle to become the dominant person. The routine was endearing; they danced between the trees and sat playing games on the grass, with never a dull moment. It was especially unfortunate when a dog decided to urinate on one of the dancers while they sat on the grass – though it was very humorous and did not reduce the ability of the performers.

A following routine was particularly intriguing: A woman stood in a café window with spools of strings and a map beside her. We stood up close to the glass, observing her begin to stick these maps to the pane in front of us. Around the maps (consisting of Brighton and Hove, as well as some London locations) she had wound various loops of string around their centre. This was no doubt to signify the borders that maps created, yet they are merely a figment of our imagination. This was my highlight of The Dance Trail, the idea of performing in a shop was memorable and original.

The final two dances were on the seafront, with a whole procession of cast members being involved. There were children now with the adults, leading us down Hove beach towards the sea. The routine was extremely intricate: many movements and separate smaller routines were happening within it. It was truly a spectacle to behold.

The Dance Trail was a special event in this year’s Brighton Fringe. I had never seen anything like it, and would thoroughly recommend it to dance novices and experts alike.

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