Off Kilter

Scottish culture gets a make-over

Off Kilter, a feisty and fabulous celebration of dance and music styles alive and kicking in Scotland today, appears at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh this Hogmanay from Tuesday 29 December to Saturday 2 January.

Artistic director Morag Deyes has gathered together world class choreographers, dancers, musicians and visual artists, including renowned Scottish painter and illustrator John Byrne, to produce a scintillating evening’s entertainment combining traditional Highland, hip-hop, Indian classical and contemporary styles. The show includes new, specially commissioned work by New York choreographer Mark Morris, performed by dancers from his own company, to the musical backdrop of Beethoven’s Scottish Songs sung live on stage by opera singer Mhairi Lawson. She is joined by a stellar line-up of folk, classical and jazz musicians including Martin Green from Lau, Fraser Fifield, Dave Milligan and Tom Bancroft, who has composed original music for the show.

Artistic director of Scottish Ballet Ashley Page has also created a new piece especially for Off Kilter. Three dancers will perform to a series of short songs by cult superstar Ivor Cutler in a musical, funny and intricately choreographed piece.

The exhilarating range of work includes Ihayami, a new work based on South Indian classical dance set to Scottish tradtional music with Indian influences. Other highlights include Gemmill’s Goal, a piece inspired by footballer Archie Gemmill’s spectacular goal for Scotland at the 1978 World Cup and choreographed by artistic director of Y-Dance Andy Howett, and Small Street, a solo created by Scottish Dance Theatre’s Janet Smith and set to the Martyn Bennett track Nae Regrets. The show finishes with a spectacular finale including the full cast and featuring an exhilarating new dance anthem for Scotland mixed by DJ Dolphinboy, encompassing an astonishing range of music including Franz Ferdinand, The Rezillos and Calvin Harris.

Dance Base, Scotland’s national centre for dance, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay organisers Unique Events and the Festival Theatre Edinburgh have come together to create this major new production. Supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and Scottish Arts Council, the show will embark on a Scottish tour from January 2010 with sights firmly set on visits to North America and Australia later in the year.

Pete Irvine, Director of Unique Events, said: "Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Unique Events are delighted that the Expo fund has enabled us to stage this ambitious and exciting new production which fits so well with the celebratory aspect of our festival. For local people and visitors to Scotland alike, Off Kilter will be a brilliant night out."

Morag Deyes, Artistic Director of Dance Base, said: "Off Kilter is a riotous assembly of the great talent inspired by, and living in Scotland. This great show reflects the energy and originality in music and dance which is experiencing a genuine renaissance right now."

John Stalker, Chief Executive of Festival City Theatres Trust, said: "For the thousands of visitors who flock to Edinburgh each year this will provide a spectacular taste of Scotland. Off Kilter is an explosion of fun for all the family and the hot ticket this Hogmanay."

Programme Notes

Seann Truibhas
Choreographer – Traditional (subverted by Davina Givens and Morag Deyes)
Dancers – Davina Givens (former world champion highland dancer)
Music – Traditional, piper – Fraser Fifield

Seann Truibhas means “losing your trousers” and this is a traditional highland dance with plenty of leg movement (originally to signify trying to shake off your trousers and all the political connections associated with not being allowed to wear your kilt). In its original form the dance was wild and uncontrolled with pagan connotations. It then became a competition piece and a sport with a more formal structure. Off Kilter brings the dance back to its original, authentic and wild roots but with a modern twist. This dance will be performed by a woman when traditionally it was a male dance. Traditional audiences will recognise it as the Seann Truibhas but will notice many differences and additional elements as well. The dancer Davina Givens is a former world champion Highland dancer from Edinburgh. She currently lives in Edinburgh.

Choreographer – Priya Shrikumar
Dancers – Priya Shrikumar, Merav Israel, Shruti Chitnis & Seona Robinson
Music – Tom Bancroft and Sri Jayanchandra (featuring traditional Indian drumming)

Ihayami is a classical Indian dance company that has been based in Edinburgh for ten years. Ihayami means “I am here” – referring to the Indian community living and thriving in Scotland. This is a new piece based on South Indian classical dance. It is very playful and percussive and works well when set to Scottish traditional music. The score is being developed specially by Off Kilter musical director Tom Bancroft. The costumes are being made in Madras using Indian fabrics and tartan that was sourced in Madras – once again highlighting the historical connections and social exchange between Scotland and India over the years. Priya Shrikumar is artistic director and choreographer for Ihayami.

Innit Innat – no?
Choreographer – Frank McConnell
Dancers – Tony Mills, Allan Irvine, Daniel Aing, Errol White, Amy Park and Lisa Sinclair
Music – Martyn Bennett mix from Bothy Culture
[Originally commissioned by Freshmess]

Freshmess was the first hip hop company to be formed in Scotland. The company commissioned Highland Dance choreographer Frank McConnell to create a dance piece that takes the shapes and formats found in traditional dancing and applies them to Hip Hop. Basically they discovered that traditional and hip hop dancing share similar formalities but within very different cultures and contexts. Martyn Bennett has basically done something similar with music – and so the performance comes full circle. This is a reworking of the piece that appeared in the original Off Kilter and is full of enthusiasm and lots of fun.

Ashley Page Piece
Choreographer – Ashley Page
Dancers – Errol White, Davina Givens, Lyndsey Thomas
Music – from Ivor Cutler’s Ludo

Ashley Page’s children overheard their dad listening to Ivor Cutler’s music and loved it – and it was this reaction that persuaded him to get involved with Off Kilter and to choreograph a new piece especially for the production. All the music is from Ludo – the most music-based of Ivor Cutler’s albums. It features 3 dancers and they perform in different pairings for each of a series of short songs. It is a very musical, funny and intricately choreographed piece. The dancers are not from Scottish Ballet so this is a new dynamic for Ashley to work with.

Cease Your Funnin
Choreographer – Mark Morris
Dancers – 3 dancers from the Mark Morris Dance Group
Music – Beethoven’s Scottish Songs performed live by Mhairi Lawson

It is a huge honour for Off Kilter that Mark Morris has agreed to make a new work for Off Kilter. The piece reaffirms his love of Scotland and his commitment to Dance Base as its artistic patron. The Beethoven songs are based on the originals by Robert Burns and will be sung live by Mhairi Lawson. The piece will feature his own dancers and is being rehearsed 5 – 25 November in New York. They will be flying over on Christmas Day to set the piece on the Festival Theatre stage.

Scots Wi Hay
Choreographer – Steinvor Palsson
Dancers – Davina Givens, Lyndsey Thomas, Allan Irvine and Errol White
Music – House band – Fraser Fifield, Dave Milligan, Tom Bancroft, Amy Geddes and Martin Green.

This piece reflects the Scottish fondness for kitsch and celebrates 70s TV shows such as The White Heather Club, Thingummyjig and The One O’Clock Gang. These programmes were created in an attempt to re-make Scotland as funky and develop a new, youthful identity – but often ended up being cheese personified! The dance piece begins with the performers in buttoned-up costumes and mood and looks like a very conservative Scottish Country dance. As the piece progresses through the decades the costumes get more and more extravagant with short skirts, bright colours, popsox and funky shirts whilst the choreography follows along the same lines so that it ends up as a glorious, camp, ritzy, go-go-girl disco with partner swapping undertones. The score moves from traditional Highland dance to kitsch tunes – all newly arranged by Tom Bancroft. This is a reworking of the original piece created for Off Kilter.

Small Street
Choreographer – Janet Smith
Dancers – Amy Park
Music – Martyn Bennett, from Grit

Janet Smith created this punky, feisty solo for the first Off Kilter and this marked her return to choreography – inspired by Martyn Bennett’s music. The piece reflects the determination of the Scots character. The dancer could be homeless or a run-away, and is possibly in a bus or train station or down a dark alley-way. The sample featured in Martyn Bennett’s track is Edit Piaf’s No Regrets. Amy Park is a recent graduate with fantastic attack and energy – embodying the spirit and strength of her character. She is based in Glasgow.

Aerial Piece
Choreographer – Jen Patterson / Errol White
Dancers – Jen Patterson, Errol White, Raphael Saada
Music – An original composition by Tom Bancroft performed live

Created to evoke a sense of the mysterious gloaming and mythical darkness of the highlands. The aerialist spins above the stage on two floor length silks whilst the dynamic male duet below connect with her by whirling themselves and her into a spectacular and atmospheric finish.

Gemmill’s Goal
Choreographer – Andrew Howitt
Dancers – Tony Mills, Allan Irvine, Errol White, Daniel Aing
Soundtrack – sports commentary

In 1978 footballer Archie Gemmel scored a spectacular goal for Scotland and became a national hero. Choreographer Andy Howitt has a vision to invigorate the idea of the male national hero and explores rugged, masculine, “Scottishness” in much of his work. Gemmel’s Goal was originally a solo based on the moves that Gemmel made immediately prior to scoring that historic goal against Holland. It is now being reworked to involve all the male dancers in Off Kilter. Howitt runs Y-Dance.

Choreographer – Allan Irvine
Dancers – full Off Kilter company
Music – DJ Dolphinboy mix featuring Calvin Harris, Franz Ferdinand, The Rezillos and Hugh McDairmid.

We have commissioned a well-know DJ to create a mix which is a dance anthem for Scotland now. It will include artists such as Calvin Harris and Fraz Fedinand, who possibly aren’t immediately associated with Scotland, but who are nevertheless from Scotland. Alan was the founding member of Freshmess and this will be a really up-beat contemporary celebration involving everyone in the company, as well as dancers from the local community. Real people! The piece will highlight the egalitarian nature of Scottish dancing by bringing together the wider dance community.

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Tue 29 December – Saturday 2 January
Tue, Wed & Sat 7.30pm / Thu, Fri & Sat 2.30pm

Tickets: £15.00 - £25.00
Box Office: 0131 529 6000

Off Kilter will tour to Glasgow Theatre Royal, His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, Perth Concert Hall and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness from 6 January 2010 and will also be included in the prestigious British Dance Edition in Birmingham in February when it will be seen by promoters from all over the world.

Tour Dates

29 December - 2 January 2010
Festival Theatre Edinburgh
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
Visit the Edinburgh Festival Theatre website

6 - 9 January 2010
Theatre Royal Glasgow
Box Office: 0844 871 7648
Make an online booking

13 - 16 January 2010
His Majesty's Theatre Aberdeen
Box office: 01224 641 122
Make an online booking

21 - 22 January 2010
Perth Concert Hall
Box office: 01738 621 031
Visit the venue website

26 - 27 January 2010
Eden Court Theatre Inverness
Box office: 01463 234 234
Visit the Eden Court website