iWitness/Special Edition



all shows at Dance Base

A GENIALLY meditative David WW Johnstone gets this Dance Base day off to a calm start while offering green tea in the roof garden - it ends, with a night-time slink and a sizzle of poetic-subversive cabaret, in Salon Mika. Inbetweentimes, there are shows that touch the heart and mind alike: Missing, the CoisCéam two-hander choreographed by David Bolger, is one of them.

It starts with a darkened stage full of symbolically empty chairs, and two dancers - Emma O'Kane and Tom Pritchard - detailing folk they've noticed earlier.

When we hear ourselves become the stuff of Missing Person posters, it's just a first step towards the stark facts and bleak statistics that filter through the solos of wrenching bewilderment, the duets of guilt-wracked tension or weary solace. O'Kane and Pritchard's bodies go beyond what words can tell, nuancing the turmoil felt by those trapped in a limbo of uncertainty and hope - forever haunted because whoever is missing, out of sight is never out of mind.

If Missing reaches out with a finely-tuned intensity that jolts you into thoughtful awareness, Vincent Thomas brings an 'in-your-face' energy to his solo, iWitness, actively challenging us to engage with the social/political issues that condition our environment, our liberty and our way of life.

Thomas's charismatic presence is matched by his grasp of theatricality, and he moves with a muscular ease that is wonderful to watch. His performance is coupled up with a special edition of short choreographies by Scottish Ballet Dance Artists with Hope Muir and Sophie Laplane up first (until August 10).

Muir's Broken Ice distils the musicality of Tennessee Williams's writing style into the rhythms of a relationship which shifts in, and out of, synch - the choreography catching the phases of introverted retreat and heat-seeking togetherness, with dancers Sophie Laplane and Nicholas Shoesmith making even the moments of stillness resonate with unspoken conflicts. Laplane's Sink In - Martin Lindinger joining Shoesmith and herself on-stage - imagines the dark mind-games we play, with a lone figure at sea between the siren lures of a male and female 'inner' voice. It's an edgy, dramatic mix of classic myth and modern psychology - all in eleven clever minutes.

Athletes sees three female dancers encased in all-white body suits where an external spinal column hints at an alien hybrid. This pronounced detail adds uncannily to the sinister feel of Riccardo Buscarini's choreography of winners and losers where slow motion movement accentuates the urgent rivalry of competition and shows of camraderie are not to be trusted. There's a twist that takes the breath away - but whose? And is winning really the victorious end-game after all?

The three dancers are astonishing, holding sculpted positions in mid-stride, their whole demeanour pitched between the human and the automaton. Spookily compelling.

Those Fringe favourites, Fishamble - from Ireland, like Coiscéam - are back, gladdening the heart with a play that dances: a two-hander called Swing where a dance class morphs into a look at life, loneliness, love, and finding your feet in the world as well as in the Shim Sham. Steve Blount and Janet Moran are Joe and May, and everyone else from the class clutz to the sparring-partners who do the teaching.

If the different accents and characters that come into play appear effortless, so too does the actual hoofing with Blount and Moran recounting how Joe and May fall into step (and more) with a twinkle in their feet and an unforced lightness of touch in the comedy. It's a treat of a show, go on, go on, go on - just go.