∞{Infinite}  by HUMANHOOD

Birmingham Hippodrome


What do you get if you cross guided meditation and dance? A question that probably not many people often ask? But one that Julia Robert, Birmingham’s own Rudi Cole, and their company HUMANHOOD have answered with a simply stunning piece of dance theatre.

Inviting the audience to open its hearts and minds and challenge our own thoughts about the Universe and our part in it. Infinite is no ordinary theatre experience.

As it begins there is no fanfare, no significant light change to signal the start of the performance. The curtain rises and there the dancers are, half in darkness half in light. As if they have always been there waiting for us. And wait they do, still and unmoving. 

As the music swells, the stillness at first feels unnatural, but it is designed to draw you in. The longer it goes on the more the tension builds until you find yourself unable to look away. When the dancers do finally move it is with an eerie slowness, as if they have all the time in the world. Or if we were to refer to the show's title “Infinite” they are unlimited by time.

The infinity symbol is cleverly woven throughout the choreography, choreography that is performed by an incredible company of dancers known as the “Cosmic Tribe” In earlier sections they move around each other like specs of cosmic dust. Then in another they pound an endless rhythm into the earth with an extended sequence of jumps that left me in absolute awe of the strength and endurance that every member of the company possesses.  

Choreographer Julia Robert said in the post performance discussion that when collaborating on sound and lighting that they aim was to “see the music and hear the dance” This is achieved to a stunning effect with lighting design from Tom Visser and music composed by Iain Armstrong

There are many moments of black out and darkness throughout the piece. It's a brave decision to cast half of the choreography in so much shadow but it all adds to the overall otherworldly quality of the piece. And when we reach the climax of the piece, bathed in light, it really feels like we have been on a spiritual journey.

Remembering that this is a guided meditation, the music is interspersed with spoken word. I however felt that visuals and music combined were enough to guide us so I don’t think the piece would be lacking in any way without it. Iain Armstrong has done an incredible job composing primordial sounding music that you can feel pulsing through your body, drawing you into the meditative state that Robert and Cole were striving for.

I can’t help but feel disappointed that this was the only opportunity for Birmingham audiences to experience Infinite before it continues on its European tour. But I have to thank Birmingham International Dance Festival once again for adding groundbreaking performances like this one to the programme. 

Infinite is an exciting, thought provoking piece and HUMANHOOD is certainly a company to watch.

Janine Henderson


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