Edinburgh International Festival Dance, Drama and Music Revues: We Are Monchichi | Untitled Love | Haven: Dialogues on Detention | Arooj Aftab | Czech Philharmonic: Mahler 7 | Bruce Liu

We are Monchichi. Photo: Fred Fouche

He comes from Italy and lives in Berlin, she comes from Taiwan and lives in Paris. There is no shortage of languages ​​between them and although they communicate verbally in English, the language of dance is truly their medium.

Shihya Peng and Marco di Nardo clash regularly in this fun yet touching piece of dance-drama. Stereotypes abound as she accuses him of being obsessed with pasta and using his hands too much to gesture, he laments the fact that everything he picks up is made in China (“I’m from Taiwan!” she corrects more than once). But as they fight as a married couple, warring siblings, or school friends, there’s still a glint in their eyes that says deep down that they respect and care for each other. .

This is never more evident than when they dance together. On a magnificent stage adorned with a lightly dappled tree, they intertwine, grab and hold each other in a moving spectacle of contemporary dance. It’s all beautiful to watch but perhaps less entertaining for the young viewers this show was created for. However, this is a brief concern, because We are Monchichi is also filled with thrilling hip hop moments, performed by both Peng and Nardo in bursts of energetic solo activity. Carefree moments, such as the duo throwing tiny lights at each other, also serve to add comic relief.

At its heart, this show takes a wonderfully childish look at how we try to connect with others who, at first glance, seem different from us. Both performers dress in outfits that hamper their ability to fully express themselves, Peng in high heels, Nardo in tight dress shoes. But in the end, they are just themselves – their singular, delicious selves. Kelly Apter

The scene is set – the sofa is covered in protective plastic, a bowl of snacks has been laid out and D’Angelo’s 1995 album brown sugar emits a welcoming rhythm. In this laid-back but warm atmosphere, stroll ten dancers, party guests in search of love – or at the very least a hint of romance.

Choreographed by Kyle Abraham in collaboration with the dancers of his New York company, emotion in An untitled love may not have a name, but it most definitely has a feeling. The characters we see before us interact with an ease and a sense of unity that characterizes the family celebrations around which Abraham grew up. Through this new play, he set out to capture black love — not struggle, conflict, or exploitation (although goodness knows he’d be inundated with material for that), but love pure and simple.

There is only one powerful moment of text that alludes to the context in which these people are dancing. We hear a voice speak of “fear” and their disbelief that black people in America are feared, when they are the ones who have been “killed”. and hanged”. Other than that, it’s wall-to-wall romance, with a dose of nudging or judgmental friendship on the side. In a witty scene, we see four women sitting on the sofa, their hands and shoulders rising and falling in perfect unison as they express their displeasure at someone’s behavior.

But it’s during the moments of fluidity, fluid movement and sensual connection that Abraham’s choreography and the talent of the dancers really come to life. It’s as if D’Angelo’s music is in their bones, pulsing with every spin and sway. The dynamic shifts when you least expect it – a trio or duo forms and dissolves just as quickly. With the exception of couples making the cut, the love in their routines only grows stronger with every sensual step. Kelly Apter

Refuge: Detention Dialogues ***

FEI’s Refuge Season, at The Studio in Potterrow, is a wide-ranging response to the recent refugee experience in the UK and beyond, encompassing music and dance as well as theatre; but it will feature few events as simple, stark and impactful as Ice & Fire Actors of Glasgow’s Detention Dialoguespresented with the support of Detainee Visitors Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council.

On a dark stage, on two single chairs, two pairs of actors – plus two eloquent BSL signatories – take turns in two sets of intertwined monologues reflecting the real-life experience of four asylum seekers in the Kingdom United who eventually find their way to Glasgow, all played script in hand with such a depth of calm feeling – by Bruce Fummey, Benjamin Osugo, Michell Hopewell and Nalini Chetty – that it’s almost impossible to listen to their stories without tears .

Their experience includes deep and cruel institutional bullying by the UK Home Office and detention system, torture due to years of uncertainty about their future and frequent indefinite detention even though they have committed no crime, but are often treated much harsher than inmates. No wonder physical and mental health problems are commonplace, as people visibly deteriorate under these pressures.

A post-show discussion is an integral part of the event, during which panelists and a supportive audience have the opportunity to express their anger and concern at what is being done in their name, perhaps the worst being. be forthcoming, as new UK legislation comes into force. For these audiences, however, little about this ongoing scandal and tragedy will be news; and the challenge is to spread the word more widely, in the hope of finally changing the bitterly negative public attitudes that have, for so long, created the political climate in which these heartbreaking abuses have taken root and flourished. Joyce McMillan

Shelter season continues until August 27.

There was nothing US-based Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab could say to her delighted Festival audience to pierce the mystical mesmerism of her music – not her running commentary on the state of her food delivery to take away, not her sidebar about yearning to get bras thrown off the scene, not even the admission that her earnest, soulful intonations in Urdu aren’t examples of Sufi spiritualism (although they certainly give off vibes sacred) but songs about drinking and love failure. There was certainly an air of tragic romance in its English output, Last night.

Aftab is the first Pakistani artist to win a Grammy Award, breaking through globally with her third album, Prince Vulture, around which most of his set was based. His music straddles east and west – Gyan Riley’s exquisite acoustic guitar playing has rippled through a number of traditions, taking flamenco along the Silk Road with a diversion into the New Age vibe, while double bassist Petros Kamplanis provided soaring jazz textures over which Aftab’s haunting legato of the notes hovered sadly. Even the “banger” with which she closed her main set was built to enchant. She brought the red roses but her audience was won over from the first note. Fiona Shepherd

Czech Philharmonic: Mahler 7 ****

Of all the orchestras, the Czech Philharmonic should know what it’s doing when it unravels Mahler’s tumult Seventh Symphonyhaving premiered the work under the composer’s own direction in 1908. Sunday’s performance at the Edinburgh Festival by today’s Czech Philharmonic confirmed this enduring lineage, in this case under the overall vision of the director current musical, Semyon Bychkov, of Russian origin.

It was a performance that developed assiduously from the start. The undulating darkness of the opening bars, the powerful wake-up call by the ripe tenor horn, and that opening movement of the first movement through fiery and stimulating contradiction, were all the more powerful for the tantalizing restraint that Bychkov applied to his culminating peaks.

This same coil spring effect fueled the movements that followed from different perspectives. The dark, surreal mood swings of the first Nachtmusik found a telling response in the corresponding second, a sunny serenade colored by guitar and mandolin, but not without its unsettling undercurrents. Between these, Bychkov has positioned the central Scherzo as the demonic and unpredictable cocktail that it is.

Everything pointed to a searing finale, its promise duly kept in a cacophony of brass chorales, cowbells and exhilarating, devious surprises. A powerful resolution, but always colored with a striking ambiguity. Ken Walton

Receiving first prize at the 2021 International Chopin Piano Competition as the outright winner among fierce competition, is an indication in itself that Canadian pianist Bruce Liu is something special. In a program ideally designed to showcase the exceptional talents of the 25-year-old, he not only performed with flawless technique, but also with an innate talent that goes straight to the heart of the music.

While a set of six pieces by Rameau were originally scored for harpsichord, they sound crisp and clear on the Queen’s Hall Steinway, with Liu striking a limpid simplicity that is far from simple to achieve. His virtuosity was put to the test in Liszt Reminiscences of Don Juana piano version of Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni. Its variations on the seduction duo, Here I dare the manoand a fantastic arrangement of the “champagne” aria were a triumph of Lisztian staging, dazzling and brilliant, in Liu’s interpretation.

Also heard in Chopin’s Variations on ‘Here I dare the mano‘, Mozart’s aria was the basis for a bravura metamorphosis, with Liu enjoying his gallops across the keyboard and throwaway decorative passages with panache and momentum. Carol Main

Gerald R. Schneider