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Edinburgh Festival 99 Tuesday, 17 August, 1999, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
A world of music and dance
Destino Tango: Role-playing and fast foot-work
The Amsterdam Parade Presents: Destino Tango
Cafe Graffiti (Fringe till 29 August)

Musafir: Gypsies of Rajasthan
Cafe Graffiti (run ended)

Cafe Graffiti is again offering the most exotic mix of dance and physical theatre at the fringe this year. A former church, it has exploded into life over the past two decades as a fully-fledged venue offering enough stimulation on its own to fill weeks.

The Amsterdam Parade: Offering two shows at Graffiti
Destino Tango is one of two shows brought to Edinburgh by The Amsterdam Parade. It draws together three Dutch dancers, Sabine, Bennie and Dries, with two Argentinians, Claudia and Esteban.

The resulting five-strong troupe makes for an odd start to a performance based on partner dancing. It also produces imaginative routines, often based around role-playing.

However nimble the dancers, tango always resembles an angry but agile couple attempting to trip each other up. The bruises on one of the dancer's legs testify to long hours of practice, but the results are practically flawless.

The music performed by a live band ranged from straight Latin tunes to waltzes and new age warbling. At points, though, they are clearly filling long gaps while the dancers change costumes behind the scenes.

Styles ranged from classic to experimental
The band, Club Tango 5, has the same make-up as the performers: Argentinians Alejandro and Ignacio provide guitar and percussion, while their Amsterdam counterparts Peter, Robert and Micha add a European feel with piano and violin.

On stage, the dancers fit together elegantly. As the tallest nation on earth, the Dutch stride confidently around the stage, even when they are dancing without a partner.

They also make convincing women when it is called for, as it frequently was towards the end of the show.

Musafir: Gypsies of Rajasthan

Upstairs in Cafe Graffiti's main hall, Musafir: Gypsies of Rajasthan also offer something in the way of cross-dressing to complement fabulous music and dancing.

Edinburgh Festival 1999
Musafir is the local word for nomads who tour around the north-western Indian state bringing song to town festivals.

They frequently include in their number a hijra, traditionally a boy born without genitals who grows up with the mannerism of a woman.

Terrible stories exist in India of unscrupulous gangs kidnapping young boys and mutilating them so they can be sent out to beg and hijra communities have sprung up in many cities in the sub-continent.

Cafe Graffiti: Seeking new venue
Yet they remain greatly feared by many people, as they are believed to be capable of cursing new-born children.

The show at Graffiti offers the other side of the phenomenon: the swirling dances acted out, awash with deep colours. The other dancer is a man in women's clothing who performs with a pot balanced on a glass on top of his head.

They join a total of seven singers who rouse the enormous church hall and transform it in to a dream palace of a Rajasthani king.

Appearing to become infected with their music, they build up circular refrains intended to build an ecstatic atmosphere among the audience. From the evidence, it worked.

Although their brief run in Edinburgh has already ended, Musafir are worth tracking down on their travels.

Graffiti seeks new home

Despite the success of Cafe Graffiti in again attracting world-class acts to Edinburgh, its future is now under threat.

Its lease on the Mansfield Place Church at the bottom of Broughton Place is coming to an end and so far no new home has been found.

As a result, a charitable limited company has been set up to promote the project and other charitable and educational values.

Whatever happens, though, the organisers promise the year-long programme of music, dance and theatre will not be coming to an end anytime soon.

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