CURIOUS SEED, DAVID HUGHES DANCE COMPANY, SARA CROW ****
FRESHMESS AND XFACTOR ****
ASHLEY PAGE, CURVE FOUNDATION, ROSIE KAY DANCE COMPANY ****
COLIN POOLE *****
DANCE BASE (VENUE 22)
AS ANTICIPATED, the hottest dance tickets this Fringe can all be purchased from the Dance Base box office. The International Festival may have some wonderful large-scale shows to offer in the coming weeks, but for sheer intimacy and variety, Dance Base really is pure gold, which is particularly heartening for the Scottish dance scene because most of this is home-grown. The four individual shows could happily keep you in one venue for the entire day.
Although at first glance the programme looks slightly incongruous, in reality the companies complement each other beautifully. Curious Seed, David Hughes Dance Company and Sara Crow form a line-up of extremes.
Crow's short film, The Smallest Things, passes by in a blur, with barely a step taken, and is followed by Christine Devaney's poignant solo, Almost But Not Quite, the first work to emerge from the newly formed Curious Seed. Having asked friends and family to send something they associated with her, Devaney found much to inspire her dance. From tangible objects such as a baby's booty and a pair of high heels, to the more abstract, "a sharp observation" or "fantastic kissing", Devaney works her way through a sea of memories.
If Devaney cradled us in her arms, then Rafael Bonachela throws us out in the cold. His new creation for David Hughes is a relentless, intense work with an almost brutal energy. Completely abstract but full of emotion, four 'characters' fluctuate between dependence and distaste, pulling at each other with both tenderness and aggression. Jumping from smooth classical to industrial rock, the music perfectly captures the essence of the movement. Better known for choreographing Kylie, Bonachela's new work is as far removed from her Showgirl tour as you can imagine - but no less captivating. Despite the complexity of his steps, the technically strong dancers attack his work with vigour.
From the dark to the light, Freshmess and XFactor is a more carefree proposition. An unlikely combination, the two companies actually work well together, largely due to one common factor - humour. XFactor's Uncanny is inspired by all things weird and wonderful. Trawling the worlds of film, theatre and pop music, choreographer Alan Greig has assembled a work filled with memorable images and sometimes hilarious montages. His Glaswegian version of Little Britain's Vicky Pollard is funnier than much of the genuine comedy at the Fringe.
Freshmess also put a smile on your face with their uplifting brand of hip hop. Like a breath of fresh air blowing on your face, the six dancers breakdance, bodypop and create moments of joyful synchronicity. Entitled One To Grow On, the work is as much about DJing as dancing, and Wallace Sulley mans the decks with style. Choreographer, Allan Irvine says his new work is about positivity and growth, but that "at the end of the day, it's only dance, because that's what we're about" - a refreshing approach in a genre which can sometimes take itself too seriously.
Those who like their dance long-limbed and flexible can indulge themselves with Ashley Page, Curve Foundation and the Rosie Kay Dance Company. Opening with two technically challenging solos from the Curve Foundation, one bravely performed to complete silence, this is a triple bill to savour. Rosie Kay's Asylum veers most towards dance-theatre, as two dancers endure a punishing round of drops and drags, surrounded by carrier bags and debris. The rest is pure dance.
With Scottish Ballet about to return to the International Festival for the first time in 20 years, artistic director Ashley Page also found time to contribute two works to the Fringe. Refurbished Behaviour and Acrid Avid Jam are typical Page - bold musical choices, sensuous and powerful coupling and compulsive viewing; the latter thanks in no small part to Diana Loosmore and Jarkko Lehmus, two of Scottish Ballet's most watchable dancers.
And finally we come to Colin Poole, an ex-Rambert dancer turned independent artist. With a reputation for creating thought-provoking works, Poole has a rare talent for making the political palatable. Unlike the rest of the Dance Base programme, Poole shares the bill with himself, a double-bill of two very different works.
The Box Office finds him masked and menacing, playing a host of black characters as portrayed in the media. Hanging five T-shirts on a washing line, each depicting stereotypical images from gangster rapper to hooker, Poole is mesmerising. Not only does he have a body more akin to art than physiological matter, but his movement style demands constant attention.
Joining him on stage for duet Bad Faith, Gena Mann immediately has our sympathy - who could possibly share a stage with this man and not disappear? Yet Mann, with a feisty glint in her eye and assured performance style, keeps us equally hooked. Set to music from Barry White and Britney Spears to Debussy, the piece reaffirms just how fun, free and pleasurable dance can be. Poole has been called "the unsung hero of modern dance" - it's time to start singing.
Until 20 August. Ashley Page, Curve Foundation, Rosie Kay Dance Company. Tomorrow 8pm; Curious Seed, David Hughes, Sara Crow. Tomorrow 3pm; Freshmess and XFactor. Tomorrow 7.30pm; Colin Poole Double Bill. Tomorrow 12.30pm