Fringe preview: Smother

Dance company Smother

Dance company Smother

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SMOTHER, at Zoo Venues, has been playing to rave reviews this Fringe.

It poses the question, can you stay true to yourself, when everything suggests you change?

Returning after a sold-out run at last year’s Fringe, this groundbreaking hip-hop dance production tells the story of two men’s broken encounter, touching on themes of addiction, obsession and commitment.

Choreographer Andrea Walker (inset) directs a cast of seven dancers in the fast-paced, intimate performance, exploring relationships. Here he reflects on the show’s journey over the last 12 months...

“This time last year we were getting ready for our first ever Fringe.

We had no idea what was ahead of us, but just bringing my own work up here was a dream come true. The month that followed was exhilarating, exhausting, and such a buzz.

This show has been a deeply personal experience for me. I created Smother as I was struggling through my own troubled relationship, and going on stage day after day to live through that experience was incredibly cathartic.

When we had our first sell-out show at Zoo it was a rush. But when that started happening day after day it was electric.

I was an emotional wreck and had a few teary evenings as people told me their own personal stories and how Smother had resonated with their own experience, regardless of their sexuality.

So then I’d go on and cry on stage too and that worked quite well. When Zoo asked us to come back this year to perform on their Main House stage, it was a dream.

This has always been my favourite stage for dance at the Fringe, so it’s an incredible honour to be asked to perform on here with a piece that means so much to me personally.

Homosexuality in hip-hop is still taboo. As a gay hip-hop dancer and choreographer, I don’t feel like I see other people like me represented very much in public.

So taking Smother, which uses street dance styles to explore an LGBT relationship, to mainstream theatres and groups of people that would never normally go to dance shows, continues to be really important to me - the Fringe gives you a chance to reach people from all over the world who’ve never heard of you.

We’ve been touring through the year to festivals, theatres, youth groups, in Europe and the UK, but coming to Edinburgh feels like we’re finally taking the piece home.”

Smother, Zoo Venues, Southside, until 27 August, 3.20pm, £12, 0131-226 0000