Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

Dance Base is offering yet another exciting, carefully-curated selection of dance this fringe, including two shows from this year’s ever-excellent Taiwan Season. The Taiwan Season never fails to deliver interesting and inspiring work, and in previous years, some of the Fringe’s best dance has been presented (Kuo-Shin Chuang Pangcah Dance Theatre’s 038, for example, instantly springs to mind).

B.Dances’s Floating Flowers proves that this year’s Taiwan Season is no exception. Choreographed by B.Dance’s founder, Po-Cheng Tsai, this is a work of the highest quality and the eight dancers who perform the work are truly exceptional. This isn’t just in terms of the dancers’ energy and accuracy—although they certainly have both in spades—it is in terms of their phenomenal commitment to the work, which is moving to behold in and of itself. The dancers’ intimate relation to the work is such that they eventually achieve what can only be described as an almost trance-like rapture—an exaltation. They become subsumed by the choreography, and in doing so, pull the audience inside the work with them.

Po-Cheng Tsai’s choreography, backed by a great soundtrack by composer Ming-Chieh Li, uses an interesting range of movement taken from western contemporary dance, traditional asian dance and martial arts, and although often fast-paced and highly energetic, it is also full of beautiful subtlety. Created to honour his late father, this is clearly a very personal work, and it certainly has a weight of emotion that is never far from its surface.

Although an hour long (perhaps lengthy for a piece of contemporary dance), it is both well structured and able to maintain focus right to its end, holding the audience enraptured. It is a remarkable experience to watch dance at this level in the intimate space of Dance Base’s Studio 1, where every small movement can be fully appreciated, and where the dancers really have nowhere to hide. Luckily, these dancers have no need to hide: if there are imperfections in their dancing, they must be few and far between.

One can but wonder how the dancers can sustain such astonishing momentum and concentration for the duration of the work. It keeps building to what could be final cadences, but then just keeps on moving forward! Sometimes the ritualistic qualities of both the music and dance become almost overwhelming, their siren-like call creating a definite pull towards the dance floor: it is hard to resist.

Afterwards, the dancers look as if they could do it all again, the audience, on the other hand, look as if they need a nice sit down and a cup of tea. Outstanding stuff, Floating Flowers is not only a highlight of the dance on offer at this year’s Fringe, it is a highlight of the dance presented to Edinburgh audiences this year.