Dance show fulfills Eastern promise

The Japanese Garden, TPO, Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich, to December 19

WHAt a wonderful way to spend a gloomy Monday afternoon.

Innovative Italian-based dance company TPO returned to DanceEast with its alternative Christmas family show, which whisks you back to the origins of the Japanese garden.

Combining digital animation, video illusions and synchronised sound, it’s a sight to behold.

One dancer perched in a single spotlight tells of a young boy’s amazing adventure, the plain looking mat around which we’re sat then bursts into life.

A series of sensors beneath it create different sounds and images when she and her fellow dancer move across the surface, matching the five gardens in the original story.

Cue playing with flowers in a stream, hopping from one giant lily pad to another, exploring a golden meadow and even creating a tune on a musical bridge to name a few effects.

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The dancing was fluid, expressive and amazingly attuned to what was happening beneath the dancers’ feet. A perfect fusion of performance and technology.

It’s strength is the level of immersion and inactivity involving the audience. All the youngsters were invited to bring the garden to life themselves, all under the subtle guidance of the dancers.

There were no real rules, except to explore and have fun.

This, combined with a relatively short running time of 50 minutes, make it ideal for even the most fidgety youngster.

The way in which the young children fell so silent so quickly, with the odd grizzle and crying soon replaced by giggles and whoops of joy as they played on the mat is a testament to the show and the performers.

You couldn’t keep some of the kids, and a few of their parents, off the mat. I was quite envious I didn’t get a go myself.


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