What promises to be a showcase of the best contemporary dance the Basque Country has to offer ends up being an underwhelming 90-minute show that doesn’t meet expectations.

The showcase initially presents itself as progressive in its inclusion of a wheelchair-using performer, Xabier Madina, who opens the afternoon with a performance choreographed by Proyecto Colectivo HQPC’s Artistic Director, Maylis Arrabit. It’s an admirable decision to incorporate the piece and Madina’s duet with Ebi Soria presents Madina as someone who refuses to let his wheelchair define him or limit his aspirations to be a dancer. His ability to imitate Soria in this playful piece is endearing to watch, at first. Unfortunately, the piece is drawn out for far too long and is let down by Madina’s partner, Soria. His movements feel more clown than choreographed, with him spending the majority of the performance jumping around the stage. To call it dancing is dubious. An enabled performer, the piece would be far more effective to watch had there been some skill or discipline behind Soria’s moves. While there is no doubt that the two performers are enjoying themselves, it’s a shame that joy doesn’t transfers to its audience. 

Thankfully, the following two performances better align themselves with the showcase’s description of displaying contemporary dance. Akira Yoshida is a talented breakdancer, managing to add feeling to the hip-hop-inspired style as he dances alone to a gentle melody. The final act, Krego-Martin Danza, are equally expressive in their duet, exposing themselves to their audience as they strip down to their underwear before performing. Their closing piece is by far the strongest performance of the three, their synchronised movements intriguing to watch. That said, all three pieces falter in their attempt to reveal the profound purpose and meaning behind each of their performances. What does the coat Yoshida obsesses over mean to him? What are Krego and Martin trying to express in their performance? There is no cohesion between the three pieces other than their shared lack of clarity.

The obscurity enshrouding this afternoon of interpretative dance makes for an unfulfilling, surreal experience that does not meet the standards of other dance troupes performing at the Fringe. The Basque Country is sure to have a plethora of creative and talented dancers in its midst: unfortunately, you may be disappointed by what is on offer here at Dance Base.