Disclosure: Dance Dispatches received complimentary admission to write an open and honest dance show review of the Alice Robinson’s Does it Matter in the Dark? immersive show.
Australian-born Alice Robinson, a freelance dancer and creator, made her anticipated London debut at ONYX Dance London with an immersive production that fully embodied the intensity and riveting nature of the title itself. The piece reflects an intelligent utilization of darkness, not just as a literal nod to the theme, but also to create an aura of ambiguity and generous room for imagination when it came to the audience’s journey.
Alice Robinson: Dancer & Choreographer
Alice Robinson is a London-based contemporary dancer and creator, but she began her dance journey in Australia. Notably, she was a part of So You Think You Can Dance Australia’s Top 100 in 2014 and toured the country with The Dream Dance Company’s production, GENESIS. She also held workshops at The Australian Dance Festival in 2015 and 2016 before making her way to the UK’s capital in 2018. Here, she performed on BBC’s The Greatest Dancer show with Company Jinks.
Does It Matter in the Dark? Show Review
A glass of wine in hand, music in the background, and a true London crowd with the boldest diversity: it was almost easy to forget that I was here to watch a piece of performance art. Cleverly turning a rehearsal space into a performance space made the event comforting, relatable and forgiving; it almost allowed for a more truthful discovery and exploration of personal vulnerabilities – both for the performers and for the audience.
The dimmed lights radically transformed the studio, setting a pretense of intrigue and mystery around how this unconventional production would unfold. The audience was given a brief introduction with one most important takeaway: “there’s no right or wrong” way to experience this show.
An ear-bursting scream interrupted this informality and out charged a group of cast members. The audience, obviously taken aback, was made to feel torn between our curiosity and apprehensiveness, questioning our own instincts of whether to follow or stay put.
The multitude of the rooms at ONYX intensified the immerse experience, mimicking the different portals and paths that one could take as an audience member. It reminded me of escape room games and an unparalleled kind of emotion that see-saws between intrigue and anxiety.
“Are you okay?” read a post-it note handed to me by a dancer. All of a sudden I felt like I became a part of something. Of what, exactly? I tried to decipher it on the spot. The performers breached the barrier between actors and audience by physically and verbally interacting with us. This lack of distinction diminished all possible ideas of disconnect, leaving the audience with no choice but to surrender who we were and allow the narrative to take us wherever it wished.
Robinson’s style is bravely eclectic, technically confident and convincingly theatrical – all wrapped up in a beguiling eerieness. The intricate choreography was performed with unanimous tenacity and conviction, building a humming tension that grew increasingly loud as the production progressed.
A gripping duet between two female dancers showed angst and animosity in the most exhilarating sequence of manoeuvres and manipulations. The partnering showed innovative transitions in levels and dynamics, and it demonstrated an exceptional level of skill, trust and commitment to the engaging narrative.
Creators of today are always seeking ways to make dance and theatre more relevant and approachable… Does It Matter In The Dark does just that and more. It succeeds in humanizing the conceptual contemporary dance experience in a way that induces a spectrum of personal connections without discrimination. Robinson’s creation was a compelling, articulate, and omni-sensory treat.
I am excited for what is to come from this evocative and boundary-pushing artist.
Lois Wong contributed this guest post. She began ballet training a the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts and studied further at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in the UK.
Check out the trailer for ‘Does it Matter in the Dark?’ here.
Immersive shows have grown in popularity over the past few years. We especially enjoyed The Great Gatsby by IMMERSIVE LDN. Which immersive performances have you seen? And have you experienced any more than twice? Tell us in the comments below.