COME August, when all roads lead to Edinburgh, if dance is an especial attraction for Fringe-goers then regulars and newbies hot foot it to the Grassmarket where Dance Base presents its take on the creative connections that transcend global boundaries.

With 21 shows from 12 countries, Dance Base’s artistic director, Morag Deyes, stops short of rolling out a table-top atlas for inspection, but she does recite an impressively far-reaching list of who’s from where.

Canada, India, Korea, Argentina and Taiwan will come together under the all-embracing banner of dance, lining up alongside strong representations from Scotland, Ireland and England. Though Deyes won’t ever say which of her choices is a particular favourite, she admits to being “thrilled beyond words that we are a part of the Arab Art Focus showcase, with our weekend of contemporary work by choreographers from Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia.

"This is very much a first on the Fringe, and some of what Nedjma (Haj Benchelabi who curated this event) thought of including hasn’t made it here, mainly because of visa issues. That said, Farah Saleh, one of the choreographers, is already with us. She’s originally from Palestine, now lives in Edinburgh and is currently a Dance Base associate artist. Having her here, together with so many other artists from so many different cultures, is what I mean when I say that dance is a language that everyone is able to understand, because the stories that bodies can tell us are stories we all share. They’re the tragedies and comedies of humanity, and our programme this year is, I think, extraordinarily full of those stories.”

Enter Shakespeare, that Fringe favourite teller of tales tragical, comical, historical, and pastoral.

“This is our 16th year of putting on a Fringe programme,” she says. “Over those years, I’ve seen so much work by companies and artists who are really eager to be on the Fringe. And so much of it, even when it’s well done, can feel... let’s just try to be diplomatic here, and say ‘same-y’. Then one day, when you’ve been on the road again and you’ve not had too many good surprises, something comes on-stage and it’s a brand new idea and it’s powerful in itself. It’s also a reassurance that creativity hasn’t gone totally dormant or moribund. Long before the end, you’re thinking 'how can I get this one for our Dance Base audiences?'”

Clearly Deyes has her own persuasive blarney because John Scott Dance (Ireland) are on the bill in the last week of August with a Lear that rejoices in a central performance by 82-year -old Vanda Setterfield. Of late, there’s been significant interest in having the role of King Lear played by a woman. Glenda Jackson accomplished it in 2016, more recently Janette Foggo has been Queen Lear as part of the Bard in the Botanics season in Glasgow. Scott and Setterfield’s initiative pre-dates both, harking back to 2014 and its premiere at the Kilkenny Arts Festival. Since then, Lear has won copious plaudits from New York audiences and critics alike, the latter no doubt familiar with Setterfield’s remarkable provenance as a dancer. English by birth, she has lived most of her life in the US, having moved to New York in her early twenties.

The 60s and 70s, those radical, seminal times for post-modern movements, found her dancing with Merce Cunningham’s company and in her husband David Gordon’s Pick Up Company. Work in theatre and film added to the rich mix of her performative experiences that Scott recognised as an ideal springboard for his venture into a dance-theatre Lear. As for Setterfield, she had already assumed various other male roles across the decades, to say nothing of playing a rat in youthful panto-times, so she agreed because it fitted in with her bottom line of, “My aim at this point is to only do things that interest me.”

Morag Deyes would rather not give away too many details about a production that continues to resonate with her. Both Scott and Setterfield, however, have spoken at length and at various times, about an approach that they connected not simply into Shakespeare’s play but into personal impressions of parenthood and the kind of responsibilities that face children when the adult in their lives is no longer in charge of situations or indeed of themselves.

“I think,” says Deyes “when you have Lear played by a woman, and the daughters played by men, you challenge audiences to go beyond what is a familiar narrative, and to really engage with other equally valid sides in a story. That holds true with another piece in our programme, Company Chordelia and Solar Bear’s production Lady Macbeth: Unsex Me Here, where again you’re looking at three distinctively different male dancers opening up different aspects of a very conflicted woman. Bringing out subtleties of character and behaviour and emotions that we probably pay more attention to because it’s not a female body that’s expressing them.”

As she points up other elements of the programme, certain words and phrases regularly punctuate the effervescent flow of what is far too humorous and quixotic to be a practised hard sell. “Raw, honest, courageous” are soon among the essential epithets for pieces like the duet from Taiwan, Together Alone, which is danced naked throughout. Deyes would remind you that there’s a nakedness beyond getting your kit off, a degree of exposure that she tags “a striptease of the soul".

"What is being revealed are the nerve-ends of our shared humanity, and sometimes it’s clearly painful and even tragic and sometimes it’s hilariously funny and sometimes it can be both at once. Like the incredible mess in Bill Coleman’s Dollhouse (Canada) where everything is just falling apart. We did, because of the mess, contemplate getting a shipping container for Bill but he’s with us, and under the same roof as the lads from Argentina who are getting to grips with what masculinity really is (in Un Poyo Royo) or – like Joan Cleville Dance (Scotland) – unravelling issues of identity and survival and what’s really ‘out there’ for us in The North. . . wherever or whatever that is.”

The whole programme seems like some United Nations mosaic – was that an acknowledgement of the Fringe’s 70th anniversary? The eyebrow raised in mock-shock says it all before Deyes voices a very definite “No”.

“I don’t believe in labelling something as a one-off special – I mean Woman’s Day? What about the other 364 days? For me, every Fringe that we are able to mount a Dance Base programme is special and wonderful and worth celebrating. It’s about the possibility of discovery, of what life-affirming or life-changing performance is waiting just around the next corner. That’s enough to keep us all, audiences and artists and critics, hitting the road. Coming to the Fringe, and hopefully coming here, to Dance Base.”

Performances run from Friday August 4 to Sunday August 27, but not on Mondays.