Fringe Dance


Zoo Southside

four stars


Dance Base

four stars

Together Alone

Dance Base

four stars

Mary Brennan

GOSSIP – part of the Czech Showcase on this year’s Fringe – is the kind of clever, funny-but-meaningful dance piece you just want to talk about to other people to pass on the juicy details of the dancers’ body language, where comically exaggerated facial expressions are saying one thing but the stilted, affected movements are saying another, and the whole mood of this chi-chi party is simply insincere and phony. Choreographer Lenka Vagnerova reckons, however, that tittle-tattle can prove viciously destructive and before long, grubby little secrets are being exposed, relationships are fragmenting and reputations are publicly sullied.

Vagnerova’s dancers – four men, two women, all elastic-boned and well able to act up dramatically – take her cogent overview of an insincere society from humorous spoof to the darker edges of malice, betrayal and humiliation where so-called friends turn mean and nasty with the (supposed) truth. What of the resentments that fester, unspoken, between married couples? Beware the shared confidant who will broadcast all, the accusing loops of black cassette tape morphing, brilliantly, into a stalking puppet monster that engulfs everyone who passes on the gossip. It’s three years since Lenka Vagnerova and Company brought their distinctive style of visually striking, intensely fierce and physical dance-theatre to the Fringe – this is a welcome return, so catch them while you can.

Run ends on August 15

THE OPENING moment of serenity in James Wilton Dance’s one-act Leviathan – where a white-clad female form lies face up and blows a mist of water skyward – swiftly gives way to unstinting ensemble sequences where roustabout testosterone leaps, spins and surges through every move the five men deliver at speed. Only one, however, can be master here, and – taking cues from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – that man is Ahab, whose obsessive pursuit of a Great White Whale becomes an offence against nature and mankind alike.

You could also read a degree of male chauvinism into how Ahab (Wilton himself) seeks to destroy the woman who wounded him and then got away. But however you choose to read Wilton’s choreography, there is a refreshing and impressive expanse of inventive dance, and staging, to enjoy. Strongly atmospheric music, by Lunatic Soul, sets moods and locations while the heavy hawsers that frequently criss-cross the stage are a visual reminder of how Ahab is trapped in a neurotic mesh of his own making. Long before the end, even his own crew look like white whales to him, whereupon they join the exquisitely graceful Sarah Jane Taylor in swooping through imaginery billows, backs arching in a synchronicity that, like their earlier energised vocabulary of breakdance, capoeira and contemporary movement, is full of thrilling precision and athletic finesse.

Run ends on August 13

NAKEDNESS is more, much more than skin deep in the bold and remarkably unself-conscious duet, Together Alone. Choreographed and performed by Zoltan Vakulya and Chen-Wei Lee as part of the Taiwan Season, the piece is very much a skin-on-skin journey into shades of relationships, be they personal or within a social context. Touch is of the essence throughout whether it’s in the sequences where he and she are establishing trust or when the pace accelerates, and Vakulya is throwing and catching the similarly lithe Lee mid-air. Their togetherness has an intimacy that is sometimes unexpectedly innocent, given the nudity. Indeed, it’s when they kiss – the carefully-gauged lighting design framing only their faces – that desire is explicit. They jitterbug to big band brassiness, intertwine into hybrid clusters of limbs devoid of gender identity, but above all they revel in having bodies that can dance so superbly while we look on, captivated voyeurs.

Run ends on August 27