USUALLY there might be little to link Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue and Russian ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov, but there is a connection in the latest programme from Edinburgh-based company David Hughes Dance.
Trialogue, which comes to Inverness and Ullapool next week, brings together three new pieces of contemporary dance, including one created for Baryshnikov and another from Rafael Bonachela, who, as well as being artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, also choreographed Kylie’s Fever and Showgirl world tours.
He has also collaborated with David Hughes on original work and 4:Freeze-Frame will see Hughes and his company once again performing one of his pieces. That includes company founder member Alan Lambie who has also toured with Kylie Minogue.
In contrast, Lucy Guerin, another Australian based choreographer, is someone Hughes has always wanted to work with, but when she was too busy to create a new piece for Hughes, he asked for permission to perform Soft Centre, the piece she created for Baryshnikov.
It is an ideal piece for "mature performer" Hughes.
"He was 51 when he did it and I’m 47," Hughes said.
"I got a great deal — getting to work with one of my favourite choreographers and getting to dance a piece created for one of the greatest classical ballet icons."
It is not the first Baryshnikov connection in Hughes’s career, however. Many years ago he also appeared in a piece created for the former Kirov Ballet star.
He also came very close to dancing a duet with the man himself.
"If I’d pulled that off, that would have been brilliant, but Baryshnikov wouldn’t reserve himself a year in advance because he liked that flexibility, so although he was interested, it didn’t happen," Hughes said.
Baryshnikov may have performed all over the world, but not the Highlands and as far as Hughes is concerned, he is missing out.
"We really look forward to performing in that part of the world," Hughes said.
"There’s a larger audience for dance there than you get in the major cities — major cities are spoiled — if you work it out percentage wise. In Gairloch we had 60 people and for the population in that region, that’s probably like an opera house. You’ll get 60 in a theatre that’s near Glasgow. We always find audiences in the Highlands and Islands such lovely and appreciative people. They thank us for being there and I really respect that.
"What an amazing job to have, to be able to perform and to be in such a dramatic landscape and meet such lovely people — and maybe go to the pub with them afterwards.
"And we have a wonderful show here. It’s a lyrical show — and you get to see this old fart take on Baryshnikov! Soft Centre is a duet between me and another older dancer, Gwen Berwick, who’s 42. So between us we are nearly 90 years old on stage."
The third, nameless, piece is one created by Hughes himself and inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales, although he added that the finished work now seems quite different from its fairy story origins.
"In that one we wear recycled kilts and I have no excuse," he said.
"They have nothing to do with Germany. They’re just great to dance in."
What all three parts of Trialogue have in common is that they have the capacity to excite both the audience and the dancers themselves.
"I have to be excited by the work. I’m in my 29th year as a performer and I’m easily distracted," Hughes said.
"Also, this is a very different programme for me because I normally commission work, but that can be very hit or miss. You can think: I like the last piece of work, but this one is absolutely shocking!"
• David Hughes Dance is at the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, on Tuesday 11th November and The Macphail Centre, Ullapool, on Wednesday 12th.