High on my list of must-see Fringe shows for this year’s festival, Tutu is an explosion of colour, grace, and humour. From the moment the lights went down in the beautiful McEwan Hall, we were met with intricate routines and innovative use of lighting and costume. What really blew me away about Tutu more than anything, however, was the sheer athleticism and skill of the all-male cast of dancers. This performance breaks down any stereotypical attitudes you may have as to what a ballerina is or looks like with a clever weaving of fun-poking and seriousness.
Tutu is an explosion of colour, grace, and humour.
Choreographed by Philippe Lafeuille, Tutu takes its audience on a journey of dance through the use of hilariously costumed routines, ranging from the baby pink tutus printed all over the show’s promotional material to cute ducks, babies in nappies and Strictly Come Dancing stars. The combination of such diverse and engaging back-to-back routines makes this production refreshing and fills you with excitement to see what will come next.
Although I don’t want to detract from all the positives of this performance, there is a section towards the end where a dancer enters with a scrum hat and a tutu and does a routine which incorporates the soundtrack and movements of the Haka, a traditional Māori dance, juxtaposed with more traditional ballet moves. Whilst I understood the intentions behind this choreography was to signal the duality of stereotypical masculinity, it left a sour taste for some of us. I felt that given the dancer was already wearing a scrum hat, the nod towards breaking barriers was already there and could have been delivered in a more nuanced way, rather than so overtly and in a way that was culturally insensitive. I believe its removal would have left the production in a stronger position which better reflected all the great elements of Tutu, rather than creating a contentious talking point that didn’t fully encapsulate its merits. Nevertheless, what is done well in Tutu is done very well. There are copious amounts of laugh-out-loud moments, a stimulating use of special effects and some very tongue-in-cheek references that will pull even the most reserved audience member out of their shell.