Fringe Dance

Gareth K Vile and Susannah Radford discuss the upcoming dance treats at the Fringe

Feature by Gareth K Vile | 04 Aug 2009

Not only are there dedicated year-round venues for dance and physical theatre - like Dancebase and Zoo - every festival, international companies hurry to Edinburgh to compete for our love. The Skinny has teamed up with Dancebase to create a daily publication throughout the Fringe, and an early preview reveals another year crammed with stunning work. Dancebase is leading the charge with their Give Dance A Chance programme. As Morag Deyes, Artistic Director says: "Our festivalling manifesto thumps the tub in favour of original work, fresh ideas, uncompromising vision and because we believe in radical, there’s some really reckless, bold, wild spirits." These restless spirits include master of Butoh Lindsay John, and Iona Kewney, who has worked with Les Ballets C de la B. There is even space for Ian Smith, the live art agent provocateur.

The Dancebase programme is inspired by the spirit of freedom heralded by Obama’s election and Morag’s own sabbatical. From the child-friendly Dilly Dilly by Tabula Rasa, through to Shamita Ray’s updating of traditional Indian dance, Give Dance a Chance captures the full range of modern activity - and then some. Al Seed’s association with physical theatre is broadened by his collaboration with David Hughes. “After seeing my show The Factory, David offered me a commission for his company with him taking charge of the choreography,” Al explains. “The calibre and daring of the dancers has provided an incredible opportunity to explore how plastic the boundaries between physical theatre and dance really are.” The Red Room is classic Seed. Abandoning a simple narrative, Hughes and Seed use expressionist sequences to uncover a mood of foreboding and terror. “A series of extremely potent images that together provide a visceral sensation of horror: the story has this wonderful hallucinogenic quality that felt perfect for a visual and musical re-working.”

This year sees the welcome return of the Scottish Dance Theatre to Zoo venues. Building on last year’s success, SDT’s new season contains the sweet balance of something old and something new with the return of Liv Lorent’s Luxuria, and A Visitation, a new commission from Norwegian choreographer Ina Christel Johannessen. SDT’s Artistic Director Janet Smith has been following Johannessen’s work since the company saw a performance of It's Only a Rehearsal at a recent Fringe. It was a “very intriguing duet that drew contemporary life and Greek Mythology together.” Inspired by Polish writer Bruno Schultz’s work, A Visitation looks set to be a ghostly tale.

The award winning Luxuri was first performed by SDT in 2005. It’s a treat for both audience and dancer that this piece is being remounted. “Companies often throw away dance and theatre pieces all too soon in a working pattern of creating and touring in a limited national touring circuit,” says Smith. “Returning to work allows dancers to further invest and discover and gives value to an art that can be all too transitory and throw-away.” Both shows promise a haunting, vivid journey as the innately theatrical SDT evoke strong emotional states through powerful imagery which . For Smith, “dance is the first thing. It connects us to ourselves, to each other and to something else - it's the whole body singing”. Back at Dancebase, the last word has to go to Ian Smith. "The punters are invited to read my personal memories out to me as bedtime stories. It should hopefully feel quite intimate, vulnerable and dreamy. I’m hoping that is entertaining in itself, but more importantly it might spark some intimate reverie within the punters too. Mind you, we’re in a toilet, so we have our work cut out."

Dancebase: The Red Room (David Hughes Dance) Traverse Theatre, Aug 8-16 various times £16 Luxuria (Scottish Dance Theatre) Zoo Southside * Venue 82 18-19, 22-23, 27-28 Aug 19.00 * £10 A Visitation (Scottish Dance Theatre) Zoo Southside * Venue 82 Aug 20 - 21, 25 - 26, 29 - 30 Aug 19.00 * £10 Fringe Box Office: 0131 226 0000