There’s a lot of prejudice out there about amateur performing companies. It’s often assumed that something that people do as a hobby, or in their spare time, can’t be as accomplished as people who are paid for their work.
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But in many cases, particularly with the likes of dance and music, where there are simply too many performers and not enough demand, the day job is a way to fund the lifestyle.
Yes, quality can vary immensely from show to show let alone from group to group, but Absolutely Legless demonstrate effortlessly just how to go about putting on a showcase.
An amalgam of Irish dancers and folk musicians, the 40-strong group was formed in 1997 by Dianne Newman as a way for people to enjoy Irish traditional culture regardless of their level of ability in an informal setting.
While many of the dancers, performing both hard and soft shoe Irish Dancing, have competed at major championships, the company also welcomes complete beginners who just want to have a little fun.
Performing at the Scottish Story Telling Centre to raise money for costumes and overseas trips, the company puts on a confident, well rehearsed display of their skills.
They may not have the production values, polish or budget of Riverdance but they convey the energy, intimacy and friendly fun that Irish folk culture is famous for the world over.
The small venue means that the audience is close enough to the footwork to really examine the dance steps, something that is easily missed on large stages. The dancers occupy their workspace very well, aware of their place on the stage and their proximity to their colleagues at all times. Their choreography has been perfectly designed for such a large group in a small area.
The group has an excellent grasp of what audiences want to see and hear, performing sets of reels like The Silver Spey Set and their own “Wedding Reel” alongside songs such as the Belle of Belfast City and Caledonia.
They may not be rushing to give up the day job any time soon but they’re certainly an asset to the Edinburgh folk scene.