Dance Base is Scotland’s National Centre for Dance, and you can find it tucked underneath the Edinburgh Castle in the heart of the Grassmarket. Indeed, if you look up while taking a class in Studio 1, you might get an attack of vertigo because it looks like the monument might fall through the ceiling window at any moment!
Established to provide classes, workshops and performances for local, professional and international communities, Dance Base is an award-winning building (by Malcolm Fraser of Scottish Poetry Library fame). Although it has a narrow frontage (sandwiched between the Black Bull pub and the Pumpkin Café), it’s actually like the buildings in the Harry Potter books as it opens up when you climb the curving staircase, revealing four sleek studios, a reception area and changing rooms on two floors.
Always bustling with activity, I have dropped in for a ballet or Pilates class, booked in advance for Irish step and belly-dance courses, gone to free showings by companies who have been in residence (cutting-edge work), and let my kids go to the Easter Holiday Camp when they were little.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme makes me happy. It’s always unexpected – perhaps a mixture of styles of dance I don’t always see (Bharatnatyam from Southern India, for example), shows for various ages (they have a resident company called Prime, for older dancers), and the best of new Scottish contemporary choreography.
Whether you’re a visiting dancer or someone who simply likes to groove, please do join me!