Five Reasons See … Edinburgh 2009

This year’s Edinburgh Festival offers a diverse mix of classical ballet, contemporary dance, and modern-day circus. The following five events are worth the hike north, with two (Royal Ballet of Flanders and Gelabert Azzopardi) handily programmed over one weekend.

1. Circa, Assembly Hall, 6-31 August
The small-scale Australian circus troupe is one of the best things in Edinburgh this year. The show isn’t new (it’s a compilation of their greatest hits), but it’s still very good, with excellent performers and strong story telling. The heavenly seven combine top tumbling and acrobatic skills with impressive light, sound and film projections. Expect ovations.

2. Royal Ballet of Flanders, The Return of Ulysses, The Edinburgh Playhouse, 21-23 August
Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey are best know for Trojan Wars and Greek heroes, yet they also tell the story of Penelope, Ulysses’ wife who waits for him for 20 years. The Royal Ballet of Flanders imagines what the waiting is like, from the power-hungry suitors at her door to the loneliness and sheer monotony of time. Music is Purcell and choreography by the little seen Christian Spuck.

3 Gelabert Azzopardi, Double bill, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 21-23 August
The intriguing, if not downright idiosyncratic Spanish troupe present a double bill of work by its director Cesc Gelabert. The Barcelona choreographer is less well know in the UK, but back home he has a cult following. It is energetic, lively stuff.

4. Michael Clark Company, New work, The Edinburgh Playhouse, 28-31 August
Ballet’s eternal bad boy returns to the Festival with a new work featuring the so-called Holy Trinity of rock – David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. Little about the event has been released prior to opening night, not even its name, but style-wise you should expect Clark’s signature mix of subversion, classical dance and outré costumes.

5. Scottish Ballet, Triple bill, The Edinburgh Playhouse, 4 & 5 September
Scottish Ballet are riding high. They’ve a new home in Glasgow’s Tramway complex, they’re celebrating their 40th birthday, and they’ve got a dazzling mixed bill for the Festival. It features Frederick Ashton’s diamond bright Scenes de Ballet, then William Forsythe’s demanding WorkWithinWork, and last Ian Spink’s new interpretation of Petrushka. A good close to this year’s Festival.