Dance preview – Hidden Door 2022

A vibrant and varied lineup of emerging and established artists have been chosen for Hidden Door’s dance programme this year.

At a glance

What to expect

This year’s festival takes place in the Old Royal High School on Calton Hill. Many of the dance performances will be taking place in the central debate chamber, created in the 1970s for a devolved Scottish parliament that never happened. A bespoke in-the-round stage will be constructed in the middle of the chamber, allowing the audience to surround the performers.

On the opening night, Taylor Han, a contemporary dance artist, and Simone Seales, a classically trained cellist, will perform With Catastrophic Consequences. Both artists have a practice based in improvisation and they will be bringing this to the performance, which blends dance and live music with audience suggestions creating a celebration of joy.

On 10 June, Dumfries-based OCEANALLOVER will present Ecdysis, a boundary-pushing combination of dance, new dubstep music, original costume and wonky choreography. This work from the arresting, energising and thought provoking company is inspired by reptiles and is a shedding of skin and stepping out into the future.

Returning the Hidden Door on the same night are The Yonis, a collective that bills itself as a girl band, a boy band, a pop band and a punk band. The Yoniverse invites the audience to join a journey through a Utopian culture where female and non binary bodies exist through the lens of the individual’s choosing. Expect riotous chanting, out of tune singing and 90s club hits during this show that disrupts the boundaries of genre.

We also present an atmospheric new work created by dancer and choreographer Róisín O’Brien working in collaboration with electronic composer Rowan McIlvride.  A contemporary dance performance that the audience can get right up close to, the music will be electronic with an emphasis on ambient soundscapes, texture and atmosphere, and the lighting and projections will be dramatic and abstract. Altogether this will be a darkly atmospheric and haunting show, creating a powerful experience to haunt imaginations and memories for a long time afterwards.

Sabrina Gargano (Italy) and Rafa Jagat (Valencia) come together to form Elelei, who will be performing A Ciegas on 11 June. Having performed the piece to much acclaim elsewhere in Europe, they will be staging their immersive two-hander for Scottish audiences at Hidden Door. It takes a look at life-changing life events by exploring what we struggle to see and recognise. Unable to see each other during the piece, they create a physical challenge for themselves and an intelligible narrative for the audience.

On 12 June, Eowyn Emerald and dancers will bring Sugared to the chamber, a fun and flirty piece that builds from a solo dancer to an ensemble of five. Initially created as a solo show for the Edinburgh based Canadian choreographer and dancer, it has grown into an ensemble piece. The company was founded in Portland before relocating to Scotland and uses technical virtuosity and emotionally complex storytelling to challenge and evoke a picture of the relationships that unite us.

The following weekend sees more artists taking to the debate chamber stage, starting with Collective Endeavours on 16 June. Formed in 2010 by Jer Reid and Solene Weinachter, they are a Scottish music and dance collective who engage with each other, the audience and the space to create a unique, one-off performance.

The next day, 17 June, sees the Edinburgh based street dance studio House of Jack bring their powerful performance The Unknown to the festival, reworked for an in-the-round setting. Using hip hop theatre and culture, Nevil Jose and Ursula Manandhar explore stories of loss, loneliness, social anxiety and passive aggression, expressed through dance and clowning. 

Trio Nomoss is made up of Edinburgh based Butoh dance artist Suzi Cunningham, sound artist Ruairidh Morrison and writer, creative and vocalist Lucie Yavruturk. On 18 June they will come together to perform Ohio’s Puppet, a response to Merlin Sheldrake’s non-fiction book on fungi, Entangled Life. They aim to go beyond what we know about the world of mycelium to question what we make of their potent role.

Scottish based seminal choreographer, Alan Greig has been creating emotional and highly visual dance on national and international platforms for three decades. In solo show, Within Reach, he is taking a handful of people through site specific spaces in the Royal High School to share his self-written monologues and choreography influenced by iconic LGBT+ characters. Audiences can experience this intimate performance from 16 – 18 June.

With more artists expected to be confirmed in coming weeks, this year’s dance programme promises to be exciting, innovative and unique to Hidden Door. 

The artists and companies were chosen by a panel, headed up by Tess Letham, Dance Curator.

Speaking about this year’s programme, Tess said: “We are thrilled to invite this brilliant array of dance artists to Hidden Door 2022, who have been selected to platform both emerging and established Scottish talent, as well as some unique performances from artists further afield.

“The variety of work brings fresh, exciting and provocative ideas to the festival, and artists have been chosen to create a diverse programme of high quality physicality, interdisciplinary forms and a breadth of artistic ideas. They all encapsulate the unique atmosphere of Hidden Door, bringing to life their imaginative work in the grand surroundings of the Old Royal High School. 

“I hope audiences at the festival find these artists as inspiring as I do, and are ready to discover surprising, moving and captivating work in our vibrant dance programme.”

Hidden Door are working in partnership with the new National Centre for Music.

Hidden Door 2022 is supported by Baillie Gifford and other generous partners and sponsors.

The Skinny are the official media partners for Hidden Door 2022.

Edinburgh brewer Innis & Gunn is sponsoring this year’s festival and will be pouring a selection of their premium beers at bars across the site. 

Tickets are available via or from Citizen Ticket.