Together Alone is one of two incredible dance pieces being featured at Dance Base this year from the Fringe’s excellent Taiwan Season. It is an incredibly intimate and intense work, danced fastidiously by Zoltán Vakulya and Chen-Wei Lee, who are naked throughout.
The dancers are already present as the audience take their seats, and the trust the dancers have in each other is immediately evident. Free from the restraints of any costume, the dancers’ bodies reveal every detail of their movements, and Vakulya and Lee achieve a rich subtly in their dancing because of this.
Costumes, however, also create a certain degree of abstraction, package up many of the features of a dancer’s body that can distract us from its line. Without costumes, the dancers become immediately very human, vulnerable and indeed just like us—not simply anonymous servants to the choreography, but real people.
The result is an astonishing intimacy between the performers, and between performers and their audience. The fact that the dancers always remain in contact with each other, only increases this feeling of closeness. The auditorium remains in a church-like hush throughout, as if any noise from the onlookers might break the spell that Vakulya and Lee weave. Although Benny Goodman and some naked swing dancing inject some well-timed humour into the performance, even this makes us feel as if we are unneeded bystanders in some personal unbounded joy.
With a superb sound track and careful lighting, everything about this production is simply excellent. The ending, accompanied by crunchy clarinets from Clarinet Factory, is poignant and touching. This is certainly one of the highlights of the Edinburgh Festival, and not just the Fringe.