Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Two for Two from Dance Base

And so it begins. My Fringe will always rotate around three venues - not that I don't love all of them - Summerhall, Dance Base and Zoo. Apart from a quick visit to Zoo Southside, which made me drool over the physical theatre programme, I have been playing catch up with Dance Base's huge summer season.

Morag Deyes, artistic director, has gone all out this year: the first runs are already selling out, and the second wave starts next week. I managed to get into a couple of beauties yesterday: Aleksandra Borys' Lost in Details and a sweet double bill, Time/Dropper and Driftwood.

Lost in Details  is another Polish entry: a solo, it takes Humpty Dumpty's words in Through the Looking Glass as a starting point for a twenty-five minute medley of different movement vocabularies and moods. Borys begins shy and in white, the awkwardness of her early grooves interrupted by elegance and style. Her character shifts from emotional stilted to wildly expressive, controlling her body through precise gestures and a choreography that articulates her interior states and sudden changes of temper. Like watching the research of a sophisticated dance scientist, who has never forgotten that choreography is as much about passion as technique, Lost in Details encourages an immediate, visceral response.

Over in Time/Dropper, Jose Agudo plays a similar game: this time, the body is masculine and the restraint of Borys is replaced by a more spectacular vitality. An integrated lighting scheme acts like a partner to Agudo, while his forceful presence flutters between moments of savagery and gentility. Paired with Driftwood, the performance has that same thoughtful intelligence that marks much of Dance Base's programme: Driftwood adds a cheeky humour and poignancy, two other qualities that Deyes loves to  programme.

Driftwood is the show for those who say they don't like dance: it kicks off in the disco - Luke Murphy is hilariously uncomfortable strutting his stuff, until the training asserts itself and he throws down a groove. Suddenly disaster strikes, he tumbles and the remainder of the show has him struggle to rescue the personality that only moments before was a fool on the dance floor. An evocative spoken word interlude, reflections on childhood, the spectre of natural disasters. It's like a short twenty minute essay on identity in the face of nature's immensity, and an object lesson on the power of choreography to express grand ideas in a small time and space.

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