Edinburgh 2013: There We Have Been - James Cousins' choreography is inspired by the novel Norwegian Wood


There We Have Been starts with dancer Lisa Welham apparently floating in space, her head and shoulders picked out by a spotlight, high above the stage. As the lights come up, we realise that Aaron Vickers is holding her up. For the whole of this long duet, an intense relationship drama, Welham literally never touches the ground.

Choreographer James Cousins is a rising star, winner of the first New Adventures Choreographer Award. Scottish Ballet performed his work as part of its International Festival programme. On the Fringe, with his own company, Cousins presents this intricate, beautifully danced duet.

It’s inspired by Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood: after his best friend dies, the hero starts a relationship with the bereaved girlfriend. In Cousins’ duet, Welham and Vickers are intimately entwined, but her focus is rarely on him. She reaches out into space, but would fall if he let her go.

Welham is fragile but never a victim. Vickers’ rock-solid support lets her flow into aching lines, swinging from his shoulders or folding herself around him. Yet she’s always reaching beyond him. In the few moments when their eyes meet, they awkwardly comfort each other with tentative pats and near-hugs. When at last he leaves, she’s left still floating, without visible support – either more self-sufficient or more isolated than she seemed.

Until 26 August. Box office 0131 662 6892