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'Just Kids' Inspired This Experimental Dance Performance

Interpretive dance inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe, butterflies, and LCD Soundsystem comes to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Production images from Velvet Petal. Photos by Brian Hartley.

Beauty can be drawn from disparate, unexpected places. It's found in ephemera littering a bedroom floor and the beating wings of a Monarch butterfly. There's loveliness to be found in grimy city sidewalks and the tenuous plunge of new love.

Scottish Dance Theatre, led by Artistic Director Fleur Darkin, captures these fleeting feelings in an ambitious production titled Velvet Petal, drawn from disparate inspirations like the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly and Robert Mapplethorpe's polaroids. The "collaborative dance experiment" is set to a dance-punk score with music by LCD Soundsystem, Spoek Mathambo, and Four Tet. Onstage in a space evoking Mapplethorpe's bedroom, dancers philosophize, seduce, and experiment with their bodies, clothing, and ideas.


"Velvet Petal is about change—how humans change by themselves or through relationships with others. It's about those times in your life when you must transform yourself," Darkin explains in a press release for the piece. "I spent a lot of time researching the photographic process and the polaroids of Robert Mapplethorpe, which inspired me to see things in a new way. We think we understand at first glance, but actually it's when we spend time letting the object communicate with us that the magic happens."

The piece originally premiered at Dance International Glasgow 2017. For the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the company presents a truncated version of of the piece titled Velvet Petal: Bedroom. The piece channels the heady atmosphere of early 80s New York, inviting audiences to witness "tough girls and pretty boys" living life in the margins, yet dreaming of fame.

"We're thrilled to have the opportunity to bring this new chapter from Velvet Petal to life at Summerhall. Ever since reading Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, I was compelled to make a piece that captures the energy of constant change and transformation. For our latest production to be further transformed for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe feels like a fitting metamorphosis," Darkin says.

For information on current and upcoming performances of Velvet Petal, visit Scottish Dance Theater's website.


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