Riders

Lenka Vagnerová and Company have two shows on at this year’s Fringe, Riders and La Loba. Choreographed by Vagnerová and performed by five dancers, Riders is smart, urgent, and a pleasure to watch. It’s so good that La Loba already feels like a hot ticket by association, before its run at the Fringe has even begun.

We can only be glad that the Fringe gives us a chance to see the Lenka Vagnerová Company outside of their native Czech Republic.

Riders is inspired by birds, but relatively little of it is to be taken literally. Towards the beginning we get a laugh-out-loud funny scene where one adult 'bird' (Radoslav Piovarč) struggles to feed the other dancers, who crouch, mouths agape, at the back of the stage. But for the most part, things are more abstract. There is very little in the way of wing-flapping, and the most evocative moment is probably when actress/dancer Markéta Frösslová is held aloft by two of the male dancers and swoops around the stage like some kind of wild-haired harpy. This makes use not only of the natural physicality of the performers as Frösslová establishes dominance over the smallest of the male dancers (Josef Bartoš), but of the stage’s sparse set-design of cardboard tubes. Lit by a warm glow that often casts sunset-like shadows, these cardboard tubes stand in for monoliths, trees, stilts and more, providing ample creative opportunities beyond their original purpose as perches for the 'birds.'

Frösslová is a mischievous and powerful presence throughout. The show opens with her perched silently in the background, but she transforms into a kind of feral trickster as the show wears on. Andrea Opavská, who will later star in La Loba during the second half of the Fringe, flings herself across the stage with abandon, evidently well-suited to Vagnerová’s choreography.

I greatly appreciated the combination of accomplished, high-quality choreography with the almost clown-like nature of the dancers’ facial expressions, which added an extra edge of personality to the more absurd sections of the show. For a while Frösslová was virtually unable to move, and yet she still remained the focus of the performance thanks to the way she complemented the others with her catty grimaces and eye-rolling. Even when one or two of the dancers were standing back to allow others take centre-stage, their faces and body language still made them interesting to watch in the background.

We can only be glad that the Fringe gives us a chance to see the Lenka Vagnerová Company outside of their native Czech Republic.

Reviews by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gilded Balloon

Sonics in Duum

★★★
Summerhall

The God That Comes

★★★★★
Paradise in Augustines

Michelangelo Drawing Blood

★★★
Zoo Southside

Riders

★★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

We’re here. We are among you. We are fast. We are strong yet vulnerable. We love to watch you while you seldom know about us. We can’t change your destinies but you often change ours. We share one world but watch it from different perspectives. Does this mean that we can also share the same values? A visual contemporary dance feast depicting the magical world of birds. The most talented Czech choreographer of her generation returns to Edinburgh with an unforgettable performance. Voted Dance Piece of the Year Czech Dance Platform 2013.