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INFINITE SPACE – The Vaults, London.

IJAD In-Finite Space photo by Anna Berry 1

Photo by Anna Berry

IJAD Dance Company presents InFinite Space, part of The Vault Festival in Waterloo. Once you have fought your way out of the station in rush hour and avoided suffocating on aerosol fumes in graffiti tunnel, entering The Vault is like entering a colourful, futuristic underground maze. This hidden venue is the perfect setting for this experimental piece of theatre.

The premise is this; everything in the universe is connected and the smallest change can influence events that are seemingly entirely separate. For the duration of the performance the audience are encouraged, via Twitter, to share their favourite spaces, be they physical, emotional or virtual. The suggestions are then interpreted by the dancers and influence the course of the performance.

Increasingly, many theatre pieces break the fourth wall, but this usually takes the form of the performers talking to the audience from the stage. This interaction is the opposite, and feels fresh and innovative. You know this theatre experience will be a departure from the norm when you are told prior to the performance to keep your phones on!

On entering, the audience are handed torches and invited to explore the space within, where the company of five dancers have already begun, alone or in pairs, to move around the room. The music, by Ian Williams, is slow and dreamy at the start, but soon develops a faster tempo and harder beat, but continues to maintain a surreal and slightly disorienting quality. The mood from the audience is somewhat apprehensive; such is the unconventional approach to this work that has been taken by Artistic Director and Choreographer Joumana Mourad.

As the piece develops, selected quotes from history around the themes of space and time are projected on to a screen along with real-time tweets from audience members. The 5 dancers not only react to the source material, but are alert to changes in the music and each other’s movement. They bounce off each other, sometimes literally, remaining engaged and focused in a way that is, I imagine, unique to this style of reactive performance. The choreographed movements are linked together with spontaneity and imagination, creating an effect that is natural and stylised in equal measure. When the dancers move in front of the screen and the projection falls on them, it is as if they are embodying the words. The overall style of dance is fluid and athletic, filled with dramatic leaps and big gestures but also moments of quiet stillness.

Social media is such a big part of our lives now so it is inevitable that it will begin to creep into areas of art. This piece offers just a hint of what could be possible if this idea is taken further, but in terms of realising this unconventional concept, there is work to be done. I am curious to see just how improvised and spontaneous each individual performance is each night requiring more than one visit, and at under an hour it feels like it was over just as we were beginning to get to grips with it. In some ways, the concept is stronger than the execution, but it grabbed my attention enough to want to see more from the company.

InFinite Space provides a different and enjoyable experience and hints at a new direction for dance theatre, one that I can’t wait to see develop.

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Reviewed 04/03/14

By Catherine Duffy
@cat_duffy

4th – 8th March 2014
The Vaults, London, SE1.

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