Presented by Dance Base as part of their well programmed season of dance for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Under Flat Sky and Edge of Nowhere comprise two contrasting dance pieces choreographed by Billy Cowie. Both make incredibly effective use of projected back images designed by Silke Mansholt, and fuse audio, music, images, poetry, story and dance in an highly compelling manner.
Under Flat Sky is a measured and meditative work for two dancers, performed beautifully by Simone Schmidt and Kanako Yamamoto. The work is in several short sections, which are intercalated with recordings of poetry, words projected onto the screen.
Clothed in white gauze to capture Mansholt’s projections, the dancers appear to be cut-out from the slowly evolving textures on the screen behind them, their bodies producing sharp, dark shadows there. Schmidt and Yamamoto’s slow, gentle movements are expertly controlled, and in this respect are reminiscent of some aspects of Japanese butoh. Bathed in the textures of the light, their bodies become almost sculptural in quality.
Edge of Nowhere, both created for and performed by Indian dancer Rajyashree Ramamurthi, is more light-hearted and is structured around a series of edifying short stories apparently from Ramamurthi’s life. Each story is accompanied by its own short dance piece, Cowie’s choreography inspired by Odissi, one of the oldest surviving classical dance forms of India.
Ramamurthi’s stories, which have been pre-recorded, are very amusing and delivered charmingly, Ramamurthi lip-syncing to the audio. The choreography is in some ways simple, but is nevertheless highly effective and expertly realised by Ramamurthi.
Both these works are highly successful consolidations of sound, image and dance. They are understated yet striking, and work very well together in this nicely balanced programme.