vera tussing chris nashT-Dance is a piece which explores touch and connection, and how to touch and connect with others when they are that little bit too far away to reach. Vera Tussing has been creating experimental work in a wide range of nontraditional spaces over the past years, and while the dancers' friendliness and informality are refreshing in the setting of a black box theatre setting, it's easy to imagine this piece being transformed by moving it to a nontraditional space, where the audience can't lurk behind the fourth wall.


T-Dance relies heavily on audience connection, which of course can be unpredictable, and which was rather flat in the show I watched, despite being individually greeted by Vera and her dancers on arrival.

Long bamboo poles are used throughout the piece, to connect the dancers but place them that out of reach of each other: each time two dancers try to touch, the pole suspended between their arms drops, breaking the connection between them. When all four dancers are connected, they use the poles to explore their relationship with the space and how to move around it using improvised commands (including a group wave to Eddie Nixon, and a unanimous thumbs up to their technician), while later in the piece, the poles are used to connect with another dancer to create a duet.

When the poles were removed, the dancers tried more direct ways of connecting with the audience, from attempting a singalong and inviting audience members onto the stage to trying to connect with individual audience members, using the dancers around them as proxies.

The Place likes to challenge people's perception and indeed definition of what dance is, as can be seen by the three works they chose to present at this year's Edinburgh Fringe (the other two works are Lost Dog's Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) and Igor & Moreno's Idiot-Syncrasy, both of which were nominated for a Total Theatre Award), and all the more so with this piece, which uses improvised movement to explore its concept and themes. There may not be much dance, but there's humour and a lot of warmth and heart in this piece.


Photo copyright Chris Nash