A DANCE adaptation of Hamish Henderson’s award-winning Second World War poetry is to be part of this year’s Pomegranates festival.

Elegies For The Dead In Cyrenaica – considered as some of the finest poetic writing to come out of the war – is Henderson’s first-hand account of the North African desert military campaign.

His dedication of the book to “our own and the others” sets the story within humanity’s common bonds and fragility in the setting of the “deadlands” of Cyrenaica (now part of Libya). The elegies also reveal the shared helplessness of loved ones at home.

The dance production – simply titled Elegies – is set both in the desert and the dance hall and uses ceilidh, jive, swing and lindy hop, the popular social dance culture of the 1940s. The reading of the elegies is by spoken word artists Morag Anderson and Stephen Watt with specially composed and newly arranged trad music and song by Cera Impala. 

The National:

“Elegies is a dance poem of serious ­reflection – a lament for all lives lost not only in the ­Second World War but in our world of ­conflicts, ­oppression and ­inequality,” said Wendy ­~Timmons and Iliyana ­Nedkova, ­Elegies ­co-curators and producers from the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland.

“We were delighted by the positive ­reaction we received when it was first performed on ­Remembrance Day last year and very proud of everyone who has worked with us on this revised adaptation as part of this year’s ­ Pomegranates festival.”

After the performance at the Scottish ­Storytellling Centre in Edinburgh on April 27, there will be a post-performance lindy hop ­social dance session, led and accompanied by Pomegranates 2024 resident musicians.

This is the third edition of the Pomegranates festival which will run from April 25-30  at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and various venues across Edinburgh. 

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The event, supported by Creative Scotland’s Traditional Dance Target Fund, celebrates ­Scottish traditional dance and traditional dance practised by cultural migrant ­communities across Scotland and provides a platform to ­showcase new dance commissions and ­residencies accompanied by live music, poetry, and art.

Audiences are invited to take part in ­ceilidhs and workshops – both in person and live streamed – as well as tours and talks about ­traditional dance from Scotland and around the world.

This year the festival’s choreographer in ­residence is MC, dancer, spoken word artist and director Jonzi D (below) who is widely recognised for his influence on the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene.

The National:

Over the festival weekend, there will be two specially commissioned tours of Edinburgh’s Old and New Town’s dance history, looking at the under-recognised female dance teachers of the past, with writer and storyteller Donald Smith and dance historian Alena Shmakova.

For the first time, the festival will run a ­Family Day featuring a ceilidh for all led by ­Caroline Brockbank of CeilidhKids and a matinee ­showcase by traditional dance artists who are in residence at primary schools across Edinburgh and the Lothians, and Bulgarian and Ukrainian language schools in the city.   For tickets and more information visit here.