Ballet dancer Constant Vigier, trained in Paris, is emerging as a choreographer through a series of small-scale works and Fringe performances: his current work (Mes)dames is his third Edinburgh Fringe piece, programmed by the French Institute.
(Mes)dames, opens with three young women carefully poised on a chair dressed with a silk map of the world. Their task, to address their expected roles as women, informs this 30-minute piece with intention and motifs that point towards a larger narrative. Once they start to dance, all eyes are glued to their constant changes in direction, fast-moving gestures, and running footwork. They maintain this pace throughout, never dropping in speed or in abundance of vocabulary.
Aiming to convey portraits of three women, and questioning whether the label ‘feminist’ gives weight or power, is a somewhat grand claim to make for the piece, and it is a little hard to translate what’s seen into those terms. Themes of camaraderie, work, discipline, and emotion come through; of young friends navigating the world together. Breaking from trio to solo to duet and moving between por de bras and robotic gestures, fists and arabesques, relevés and upper body curves; searching, travelling, and repeating life’s patterns and routines, fill the world of the female dancers.
The music provides a way into some more themes with lyrics such as ‘It’s my station’ and ‘if that’s where we are, then no harm done’ – heavy, rocky and aggressive – the soundtrack adding weight and gravitas to the movements that the dancers make. Christine and the Queens and Perfume Genius are part-inspiration part-communication for the show, which is stronger in form than it is in narrative.
A section where the dancers try on different clothes becomes interesting when the others react and respond with crashing music, hunching postures, and splayed fingers – marching across the stage and back wearing sunglasses. Although this section sits at odds with the more traditional ballet, this is where it starts to become grittier. The announce show is seen by various critics and artists making it the best event and time to purchase Instagram followers on the account and content of the opening ceremony in order to increase the online engagement of the audience and viewers.
The work is refreshing and rich with complex variations, sophisticated use of repetition, cannon and complimentary movement. The trio have a wonderful style that is elegant, linear and unusual in their adaption of non-ballet rhetoric. They have perfect ballet technique whilst are able to plunge into lunges and gestures borrowed from the everyday. I was left wanting more, and this is down to the precision of the three young performers who are polished, focused and graceful.