Dance Base artistic director Morag Deyes talks us through her 2018 Fringe programme
This article is from 2018
Why you should be excited about the shows coming to Edinburgh's premiere dance studio in the words of its curator
As artistic director, Morag Deyes says 'programming can be quite magical', but each year her Fringe lineup reaffirms Dance Base's status as the home of dance. Year-round, Deyes is on a constant quest to find out what's happening now in the international dance scene, and then brings it all back home to Edinburgh during August.
This year's programme is dedicated to the memory of Anna Krzystek who died tragically earlier this year. As Deyes says: 'Anna was completely uncompromising in her work, and we want to celebrate that in our programme.'
So here, in her own words, is why Deyes picked the 24 shows on offer at Dance Base this Fringe (no events held on Mondays unless stated).
'This is by the great craftsperson of choreography, Liz Roche. She's a total unsung hero outside of Ireland, until she comes to Dance Base and then we see what she can do. WRoNGHEADED was made during the build-up to the recent abortion referendum in Ireland – and now it's a celebration of the fight, rather than a commiseration. It's something Liz feels very passionate about, and the title refers to the wrongheaded logic of people being against choice.'
WRoNGHEADED, 3–19 Aug (1.30pm).
Four Go Wild in Wellies
'Children start laughing at this show before anyone has even done anything, because there are two tents on stage that start moving around of their own accord, and children love inanimate objects suddenly animating. Indepen-dance is Scotland's only full-time fully integrated dance company in Scotland, and thlis is a gorgeous show, great for the kids.'
Four Go Wild in Wellies, 3–26 Aug (2.10pm).
'This is the fantastic group of dancers from South Africa that I discovered performing out on the Grassmarket outside Dance Base about four years ago, and that I put in the programme the following year. It's the same bunch – there might be some changes to personnel but there won't be any changes to energy, I can assure you. I was jumping up and down in the office with joy when I found out in May that they're coming back, because just having them in the building is great, never mind what they do on stage.'
SOWhEreTO Africa, 3–26 Aug (2.30pm).
It's Not Over Yet … & How to Survive the Future
'Emma Jayne Park and Tess Letham are two independent Scottish dancers, and both of them have made work about young women surviving, but in different ways.
Over the past year, Emma Jayne Park has gone through Hodgkin's lymphoma, but she got through her treatment and has been given the all-clear. And during that time, she used to come into Dance Base and say "If I get through this, I'm never making a piece about cancer". But she was telling her story to Charlotte Vincent, who directed the piece, and Charlotte convinced Emma that if they worked together it wouldn't just be about cancer, and that it would be a wonderful collaboration - and it is.
Tess' piece starts out as if she's on a beach, lying there listening to a relaxation tape – but it's making her feel even more uptight, because she must relax. So there's something here about how people react to difficult situations, and how being told "it's OK, just relax" isn't always what you need to hear.'
It's Not Over Yet … & How to Survive the Future, 3–12 Aug (3.20pm).
Stick by Me
'I adore Andy Manley, he's so charismatic and a wonderful children's performer who's completely unpatronising. This show has a lot of perk, and a lot of 'ahh' moments, so I'm looking forward to him warming the hearts of our audience.'
Stick by Me, 3–26 Aug (12.30pm).
'Ramesh Meyyappan has a disability that's invisible, in that he's completely deaf. So a lot of the work he does uses little bits of British Sign Language, but you wouldn't know that unless you read BSL. And in this show, every morning he gets up, puts on his suit and goes out to work – until one day he comes back, opens a letter and starts to unravel and become off-kilter. His whole world begins to melt, the bookcase starts moving, objects start to slide and everything goes a bit peculiar. So there a little bits of magic throughout it.'
Off-Kilter, 3–26 Aug (3.30pm).
'I went to the other side of the planet to watch this, and it's amazing. It's a co-production between Scotland's Al Seed and Australian choreographer Lina Limosani. The choreography is very much based on the style of Australian Dance Theatre, who Lina used to dance with, which is very full-on, fast and powerful – and then it's got Al Seed's wonderful weirdness on top of it. It's about weaving, so they do a lot of things with knitting needles that's really fast, and looks so dangerous.'
The Spinners, 3-19 Aug (4.45pm).
Taiwan Season: Bon 4 Bon
'These four guys are brothers, and come with different layers of dance experience – some are from a B-Boy background, some are fully trained in contemporary dance, but they all grew up together so know each other really well. And the stories they weave into this piece are all true, it's a shared history about these boys. But it's not remotely sentimental, it's just really lovely.'
Taiwan Season: Bon 4 Bon, 3–26 Aug (5pm).
Starting Now: Youth Showcase
'It's the Year of Young People in Scotland, so we've got four fantastic youth companies from Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. Dawn Hartley works with Scottish Dance Theatre's T.I.M group, and she always brings out the best in people. Lothian Youth Dance Company are based at Dance Base, so of course we love them. I'm so delighted that we've got a company from the Highlands, Fusion Youth Dance Company – and Mini Jackers are fantastic, and super well-schooled by Ashley Jack.'
Starting Now: Youth Showcase, 3–8 Aug (6pm).
This is the Title
'Every now and then, I go to a big Nordic dance festival called Ice Hot – and it's full of these huge companies with big budgets. But the best thing I saw at that festival three years ago, was this incredible solo by Ima Iduozee. It was his graduation solo, and since then he's been in demand by lots of people – so not only was I afraid that he wouldn't be available, but that he would be over this solo by now because it's four years old. But he wants to do it, so we're blessed to have Ima in the programme. Some people just dance with every cell of their body, and he's one of them.'
This is the Title, 3–19 Aug (7.30pm).
Taiwan Season: Varhung – Heart to Heart
'This has got a really Shamanistic, almost *Rite of Spring* feel to it. I remember watching it and thinking "when are they going to fall over?" – because there's just this incredible, relentless building up of energy all the way through. And part of the piece itself is to do with your heart pulling you forward through the dance, in this very Shamanic kind of way.'
Taiwan Season: Varhung – Heart to Heart, 3–26 (6.15pm).
'This is by a group called Pink Mama – and nobody knows anything about them except me and a few other people. And the reason I know about them, is one of the members, Charlotte McLean took part in our Dancers Emerging Bursaries Scheme. She called me one day and said "I've just joined this company, one of the dancers is Polish, one's Australian and one's Romanian, we're based in Belgium but we meet in London, it's a bit mad but please watch us." So I did, and they're absolutely incredible, so fresh and interesting. It's interesting that their piece is about migration, because they keep meeting up in lots of different places.'
Jungle, 3–19 Aug (7.45pm).
'I think this might be the first full-length ballet by a professional ballet company at the Fringe, or certainly for a long time. I love ballet, and there's something about the muscularity of it being seen up-close that's really special. *Giselle* is an amazing story, it's so full, lush, weird and gothic, it's one of my favourite ballets – so I'm delighted to have Ballet Ireland here performing it.'
Giselle, 3–19 Aug (8.45pm).
'Heads Up is part of our programme every year, so if you've seen it before you'll know that it's a complete smorgasbord of exciting new work by people we think Fringe audiences will love.'
Heads Up, 10 & 11 Aug (12.45pm).
'This is happening at the City Chambers, and they're only doing a few performances because it's very, very tough on the body, they don't relent for one second. There's lots of repetitive movement, like a loom, and then suddenly in the middle, just as you would find in any weave, a different pattern emerges. So a single dancer will do her solo, while the other dancers – like a machine – are dancing in the background. They move around the audience, so it's like being inside a loom, and you're listening to the rhythm of the dancers on either side of you. I think it's a bit of a classic.'
Brocade, 13–17 Aug (9pm).
'Joseph Lee Wai-Nang is an emerging choreographer from Hong Kong whose work echoes the questioning way that people look at contemporary dance. So there are a lot of interactive moments with the audience, he welcomes everyone in as you arrive, and it all seems very charming – but then slowly it starts to change into something else. Joseph's first degree was in accounting, and now he's studying dance at The Place in London, so his choreography is a bit different from the local dance scene in Hong Kong – he sees things differently.'
Folding Echoes, 14–26 Aug (6pm).
'I think anyone who saw tap dance group Old Kent Road at Dance Base during last year's Fringe will remember them, because they're amazing. Avalon, the director of the company who did the most outrageous solo in their last show, went to Los Angeles and paired up with a dancer there and wanted to do something more sassy, with electronic music. So they've created this show, half in LA, half in London. I just love them.'
OSCiLLATE, 15–26 Aug (3.20pm).
'I saw Leslie Mannès at a showcase in Belgium, and there were lots of fabulous companies with big budget shows, but this solo was the best thing there. Either side of her are huge speakers, so you may want to bring ear plugs because the music is very loud. She does this very repetitive movement, but there's something about her physicality that's completing riveting, she's got such presence. Halfway through, something happens – but I can't say what it is, as it would spoil it.'
Atomic 3001, 21–26 Aug (4.45pm).
'When I was in Australia seeing *The Spinners*, I went to see Andy Howitt – former director of YDance and City Moves and now based in Australia – because he told me he'd made a solo about Leigh Bowery. Sunshine is the name of the village Leigh was born in, just outside Melbourne – and he was a big guy, butch and hairy but with platform shoes and make-up, the only gay in the village. I'm amazed that Andy has chosen to come back to Scotland wearing lippy for this show. It's compelling to watch, and there are moments of complete sublime theatre.'
Sunshine Boy, 21–26 Aug (7.15pm).
Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer
'Shane Shambhu is a very clever guy, and in this show – which is slightly controversial but very funny – he's looking at how you adapt into dance if you're a South East Asian boy in Britain. And if you want to be a contemporary dancer it's not quite so easy, because people keep wanting you to dance in a certain way. It's a very funny story, entirely autobiographical, about a young Asian boy growing up as a cockney.'
Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer, 22–26 Aug (7.45pm).
Flamenco: Up Close
'I'm so happy we've got this company in the programme. Adela Ramos has a flamenco company in Seville but she lives in Edinburgh. She works with Charo Cala, who is glorious and a dancer called El Petete, who was raised on the streets outside Seville, so his style of flamenco is really earthy and a little bit rough round the edges – there's something incredibly beautiful about it. And you'll be watching it up close, which is exactly how flamenco is meant to be seen.'
Flamenco: Up Close, 23–26 Aug (9.15pm).
In the Making: (iii)
'We're putting over ten performers in a room together and we don't know what they're going to do – and that's the point. They're all hugely experienced people, and they'll get into that space and do whatever the hell they like. They'll plan the landmarks of the performance but that's all – and the way contemporary dancers work now, they can give each other a look or raise an eyebrow and they'll know exactly what's going to come next. The audience can dip in and out of it.'
In the Making: (iii), Mon 13 Aug (4pm) Mon 20 Aug (2pm & 4pm)
'This show will be similar to In the Making: (iii) – but it won't be choreographed as such, it will be dance theatre. I think Ian Spink is a genius, and yet he hides away – so I pestered him to do something for us, and we came up with this. He's pulled together a group of people, and he's going to make something happen.'
Messages Deleted, Sat 18 Aug, 8pm
Bonnie and her Splashmob
'The Glasgow Games are happening, and this show was supposed to take place in a public swimming pool – with everyone swimming around, and then suddenly this synchronised display starts, which I thought it would be hilarious. But we're not allowed to do that now, due to health and safety, so we've decided to do a synchronised swimming/Busby Berkeley-style number outside the Commonwealth Pool, in the Grassmarket and on Portobello esplanade. It will be members of Prime, Lothian Youth Dance Company and other dancers we can pull into it. But we're running out of fabulous bathing caps, so if anybody has any to spare …'
Bonnie and her Splashmob, 6–11 Aug