Fringe Theatre Reviews: Return to Dance Base

Week three at Dance Base provides a variety of shows, from Jo Fong's An Invitation..., Billy Cowie's double bill of Edge of Nowhere and Under Flat Sky, and the chaotic Ponies Don't Play Football. We dive into the melee

Feature by Stephanie Green and Mark Harding | 01 Sep 2015

Jo Fong’s An Invitation… (★★★☆☆) is a charming, playful enquiry into the choreographer’s art, with the feel of an open workshop as it involves the audience in interesting questions: how do you start? What do you do if you’re stuck? We also experience how dancers feel in front of an audience: too close? There are flashes of brilliance and Jo Fong is completely involving, plus all three performers have wonderfully expressive faces and bodies. Since the show is part verbal humour, it is a shame that the co-performers are often inaudible, but this should be easy to put right.

Edge of Nowhere/Under Flat Sky (★★★★☆) is a ravishing double bill choreographed by Billy Cowie. The sheer beauty of Under Flat Sky is breathtaking: a visual projection designed by German artist Silke Mansholt and vocals by Rowan Godel are all part of an entrancing whole. Tiny poems (such as ‘Ice cracks, ice thaws / And so into my arms you will melt / Then flow away’) introduce each section. First one dancer, then two stand in front of the screen so that the patterns are projected onto their bodies; they appear to be dissolving into the changing landscape or seascape. Their Butoh-inspired gestures are slow, minimal and totally mesmerizing.

By contrast, Edge of Nowhere  is a delightful blend of verbal and physical humour performed by Rajyashree Ramamurthi. Her costume is part disco-shiny gauze top with traditional Indian henna and nose ring, and her movements mix contemporary dance with Odissi-influenced stamping and sliding eyes. Casually dismissive of the ‘Alexander guy’ she goes to see about her appalling posture, she goes on a journey to find herself as a dancer and the meaning of life, all with tongue-in-cheek insouciance.

Ponies Don’t Play Football (★★★★☆) delivers just what it says on the tin: comedy, chaos and mischief – plus a six-piece rock band. The ponies frisk through dance sketches accompanied by rock, jazz and funk hits. Sometimes it’s a band supported by dancers (literally), sometimes it’s dancers supported by a band, or dancers playing instruments and a band dancing, sometimes it’s Michael Barkley – ‘the UK’s greatest trumpeter’ – giving lectures on bebop. It’s slapstick, sexy, structured, topsy-turvey, clever and warm. Long may the ponies come out to play!

An Invitation…, Dance Base, run ended

Edge of Nowhere/Under Flat Sky, Dance Base, run ended

Ponies Don’t Play Football, Dance Base, run ended