Or trying to find the best saver deals on the train. Head instead to Edinburgh's Dance Base this Fringe-time where, thanks to a far-ranging selection of international work, you can be an armchair traveller to dance from India, Poland, Canada and Italy, located alongside some must-see performances from closer to home.
Much of what's on offer is arriving in the Grassmarket home of Dance Base because artistic director Morag Deyes has hooked up with some like-minded travelling companions. Her connections with the Culture Ireland Showcase team has gone from strength to strength in recent years, but now she's brought some tremendous new international partnerships into her programming mix.
Deyes is bubbling over with enthusiasm: "We're now at the start of a three-year partnership with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, and I am incredibly excited at the thought of what we can build in terms of collaborations in the future. We've already seen the value – for our dance-makers as well as for our audiences – in forging links with other countries. This is adding another strand to that, and there's so much more to be discovered. I've been seeing amazing work by companies I didn't know existed and I keep wanting to bring them back to Dance Base with me."
Her first clutch of souvenirs comes together in an Italian showcase that draws on the creative energies of artists and companies working in Turin, Milan, Marche and Veneto. She murmurs that, a little like Italian cooking, each region seems to have its own especial recipe: a way of taking universal concerns, or familiar concepts, and "seasoning" them with a particular kind of expressive physicality. In some cases, that extends to carefully devised visual elements within the performance, an aspect that nowadays is often the cue for hi-tech gizmos to kick in with the stuff of trompe l'oeil effects.
So it's almost quaint, and certainly refreshing, to discover that Chiara Frigo has, herself, wielded the scissors that produced the on-stage paper people in Suite Hope. Frigo jokes, in a witty and lighthearted way, about how connected she feels to the little shapes she's now able to cut out at speed. And she admits that, in the 18 months or so since she started making Suite Hope, she's been unable to throw away any little paper people who got too dirty, or broken, to be in the show any more. That's all to do with the emotional and intellectual investment she's made in this piece. She's quick to point out that, even as the little paper dolls hint of childhood play-times, the work itself is not "all pink and lovely. Because over and over we see people – not only the paper people, who are very fragile, but also the two dancers – trying to stand but not always able to do so. They fall. And these are the cycles in our society, in our own lives and in the lives of others. But I think, in the end, I allow us a dream of hope. And I try very hard not to stand on any of the paper people when we take our curtain call!"
Frigo came into dance-making from a scientific background: she had graduated in molecular biology before making her first work in 2006. Those scientific processes of gathering and analysing information in a practical exercise seem to feed into her choreographic methodology. Once her thoughts had turned to the theme of "hope", she set about researching past and present notions of what it meant.
"I looked at how hope was represented in the 19th century, that vision of Utopia and the ideologies people believed in. Then I talked with people in my company, people on the street, about what hope is for them and how it now seemed to be more connected to yourself, to your relations with others. But then, because I am very aware of the role an artist has, I looked at our society. And that was when the little paper people came onstage, so fragile and so easy to crush. We have to think about what is precious to us and we have to ask ourselves: 'Are we like these paper people? Can we still hope?'"
For Paola Bianchi, who makes her UK debut in the Dance Base Italian Showcase, it was her curiosity about the body in light and in shadow that led to her creating the solo intriguingly-named Duplica. Bianchi explains that it is actually a duet of sorts. She is the dancer we can see moving behind a black gauze, but because of the precisely-gauged use of light, it is her shadow that we also see as it shape-shifts and moves as if it had a life of its own. The interplay between the physical and the metaphysical is wonderfully rich and full of possibilities for the onlooker. Is this 'thing of darkness' a manifestation of the individual's hidden, inner self? Is it sinister? Is it trying to up-stage the artist, luring our gaze away from her performance? Bianchi prefers not to impose any fixed interpretations on us, leaving it up to audiences to follow their own imaginative leaps in response to the carefully-calibrated tricks of the light.
It would have been relatively easy for Bianchi and her associates to involve cameras and computer software in assembling a video of the shadow-play. But no. She says: "It is an old-fashioned craft. Body and light, the light on the body, the shadow on the body." Everything is generated in real time and that, as Bianchi reveals, goes beyond physical exertion. She talks of the sense of uneasiness that is necessary for Duplica to exist – and refers, in passing, to a sentence that "followed me during the conceptual development of the performance: dead people don't have shadows." But as Bianchi gives of her own energies, follows her own creative curiosity about how we perceive imagery and devise meanings for what we see, her shadow brings to life a wealth of possibilities to tease, surprise and perhaps unsettle us.
Details of the Italian Showcase and the entire Dance Base Fringe programme at dancebase.co.uk
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