Rosie Kay’s Fantasia

RKDC Rosie Kay's Fantasia image Brian Slater 6

The Brunton
November 1st, 2019

With each industrious embellishment of her principle themes, Rosie Kay has created a ‘Fantasia’ of delights. I caught her touring production at the Brunton last Friday, & am extremely glad I did so. With November, & thus the drawn-out Scottish Winter just beginning, the sheer quality of colour in Kay’s routines & costumes was a real warming tonic to the wettening, darkening world.

Fantasia is danced by three sharp, superfit young performers; Shanelle Clemenson, Harriet Ellis & Carina Howard. Together they perform Kay’s Bohemian, Baudelairean creation – sometimes together, sometimes alone, & at all times fusing the tapestry with slickness & variety. From the staccato box-ballerinas of the opening piece, to the operatic energies of the garish, Bedlamic finale & its false-endings, we are poked & jabbed & dragged into Kays’ bubbling cauldron. I swear down, when it came to arm posture, I am sure I witness’d the complete gamut of human possibility.


There is more to Fantasia than the dance. The stage is sublime, with a mirrored floor below them like a clear lake, & with shadows fractalising behind, our three dancers are everywhere at once – very clever! Then there is the music, OMG, the music, what a wonder, what a somatic symphony! Each of Annie Mahtani’s compositions (based mainly on Vivaldi, with Telemann & Bach making cameos, among others) is a classic in its own right. When entering into symbiotic fusion with the dancers, when the littlest sonic nuances are absorbed & acted out shimmeringly before us, it is a splendid spectacle indeed. Close your eyes a moment & drift off to the atmospheric 18th century; open them & let the music transport your psyche to a full appreciation of the choreography; or dwell somewhere inbetween – all are just as a good a way to experience Fantasia.

Fantasia lasts for an hour, which is just the right length, everything feels explored & enjoyed to satisfaction. With costumes changing at regular intervals – the tassl’d mummies were amazing – & the aforementioned mixing up of the number of performers, one’s imagination can never settle on any sense of true understanding of the piece, & instead simply relaxes & nibbles on the cornucopia before us. Many complements to the team involved – a fine, fine production.

Damian Beeson Bullen



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