This is an installation performance by Dudendance Theatre set in the beautiful grounds of Dryburgh Abbey, south of Edinburgh. Dancers perform a meditative narrative in and around the ruins.
ReviewBorderlands is a site-specific installation performance, set in the Dryburgh Abbey grounds, produced by Dudendance Theatre. The Dudendance Theatre Company creates innovative narrative movement productions that often interlace film and soundtrack. Dryburgh Abbey is a beautiful location for such a performance because it is a complete medieval ruins, with lush grassy lawns connecting the buildings, located in the borderlands – just over one hour drive south of Edinburgh.
The Gothic architecture and mysterious passage ways that link each part of the buildings are brought to life when about ten dancers from Dudendance appear and disappear around the grounds.
A bell rings out and a figure walks very slowly in the distance, holding her dress out so the silhouette is sculptural and mysterious. The pace of the walk is very slow, which makes the audience members who are visiting the grounds of the abbey stop and wonder what they are seeing. Before you know it, another figure looking almost the same appears from another direction, then another in the far distance. Each performer wears a long billowy white dress and narrow bonnet that covers most of their face, with beautiful costume design by Heather MacCrimmon. Some dancers have long white trains and three others carry huge white flags that echo a rally to war in days gone by.
The timing of this piece is astonishing because everywhere you look another figure starts or ends their journey to melt into the woods or cracks of the ruins, as we are led around to different parts of the grounds. The figures also appear high up draping themselves over walls. These spirits are of the prior inhabitants of the area and they move with a purpose, always at the same slow speed, each one with her own narrative provoking the audience to reflect on or imagine the lives of these ancestors.
During the performance the Andante Chamber Choir led by John Stone sang The Requiem Mass by Tomas Luis de Victoria. The choir was hidden in the main room of the abbey and was heard throughout the grounds, which was wonderful and added a lot to the special atmosphere. Although we experienced this performance on a lovely sunny day, I can imagine that it would evoke different narratives on rainy days or in the evening. Directed by Clea Wallis and choreographed by Paul Rous, the concept of this installation performance is superb and it is truly a unique, meditative experience.