Category: Blog

Performing Arts and the Pandemic: Delivering the Open Online Theatre Festival during COVID-19

Performing Arts and the Pandemic: Delivering the Open Online Theatre Festival during COVID-19

Image credit Katerina Sfaellou.

During the pandemic, IJAD Dance focused on Open Online Theatre,which allowed them to recreate and rethink how the performing arts sector could support young to midscale artists nationally during the closure of cultural venues and beyond.

We are not big, not an Amazon, or a Google…but we managed to deliver an ambitious programme for artists, beginning in September 2020 and culminating in a week-long live-streamed festival in February 2021, which involved work from 49 professionals.

We used five strategies to keep our approach fluid:

  • Whatever’s happening, carry on!
  • Build a space for process, questions, trust and support
  • Be fluid and adaptable, be agile, nothing is personal, it’s ok not to be sure
  • Always remember your North Star
  • Know your team, and your collaborators

Whatever’s happening, carry on!

“The pandemic lockdown scenario(s) demand reflexive and immediate responses to explore and negotiate the physical chasm that has opened up between performer and audience, between lecturer and student, and between space and place.” 

                                                                                                                             Paul Sadot

For a year now, the stories have been about empty: empty theatres, cinemas, schools, streets and community spaces. 

And the question has been ‘how do we transform our habitats into spaces conducive to work?’

30 March 2020:We worked at full power while venues were working at 11 to 33% capacity. Email correspondences became a waiting game, like Dumas’ book, L’Attente

The suspense was in waiting to see how directors would negotiate the absurdity of our new reality. 

Immediate reflective responses were what we at IJAD were planning at the time; our momentum was ‘all systems go’ with Open Online Theatre, a virtual venue developing and showcasing new work at the intersection of performing arts and technology; training artists to rethink their practice to make work specifically for live-streaming, via the art of sensography.

IJAD wanted to create a system for artists to monetise their process and performances, and gain training in business and social media, as tools for sustainable careers. 

March to June 2020:The first three months of the pandemic were about using our creativity, our listening ears and our communicative nature to work out how to create and supply what the market needed. 

Yes, it took a lotof energy; it was very hard to find alternative spaces to perform and to devise methodologies to create between spaces, between times and between bodies.

The narratives, be they abstract or linear, are what we deliver through whispers, poems, words, visuals, movements, touches, and that is what we do as artists.

COVID-19 forced us to pause and to analyse, while we also faced living in fear, and the grief of knowing that friends and family members were contracting the virus or dying from it, while we were unable to visit the hospital to lift their spirits, or support the deceased family, or rejoice for a newborn baby.

Everything quickly became screen-based, and for this our emotions needed to adjust and learn a new way of existing. 

Lockdown rules had imposed new spaces, new sensitivities and fears that were challenging both existentially and physically. This newly-pressed existence suddenly became a multitude of isolated existences. 

As creators and performers that have been working in the telematic arena, we found ways to invite others to engage with the potentialities of this new performance architecture, this new spatiality. 

Alexa: Choreography Lauren Tucker, collaborator/performer Nicolette Whitley, Image credit Katerina Sfaellou.

OOT:Building a space for process, questions, trust and support

“I feel that as I move forwards as an artist, my thought processes will align with the

marriage of each of these components to push the boundaries of the art form. 

I really feelthat a process like OOT at the time OOT came about, the different modes of thinking andmy own creative enquiry sitting in science tech and dance, resulted in a process that was very special to me.

Creating a space that reflects on invigorating our practice by using technology within the artwork we are creating, hence the hybridicity, this is a place where we are growing the community of intersection where tech and performing arts are pushing with the new. Hybrid is in the way we integrate the tech and science in the work and where the audiences receive the work.

This was muchmore than a professional artist development programme, but more of a supportmechanism to prepare me for all of the creative processes that I experience movingforwards.” 

                                                                                                         Lauren Tucker, OOT Artist

Rewind to January 2018:Five international artists trialled the Open Online Theatreprogramme, in its beta version; the programme ran for eight weeks, including three days of workshops in sensography, social media, editing, and film.

At the end of eight weeks, we had a sharing. The programme went well with no major issues; we had an international audience of 600, with 50 people present in the theatre. Artists had great freedom of choice, and live streaming happened as a natural flow.

March 2020:Two years on we faced completely new parameters: in terms of space, digital space, technological incapacity, human interactions, audiences with digital overload, and venues running at reduced capacity.

Fast forward to February 2021: The Open Online Theatre Festival reached 16 countries and 59 cities, hosted online, and from a gallery in France! 

Be fluid and adaptable, nothing is personal, it’s ok not to be sure’

                                                                                                            Joumana Mourad

It’s true,we had system that was successful in 2017-2018, but 2020 came along with entirely new demands: audiences had a ‘Zoom habit’ and digital fatigue, we had more easily accessible Facebook, Instagram, etc. and the artists had different needs.

February 2020:After looking for 10 talented artists to join the programme, we now had artists from Manchester, Birmingham, Devon, Greenwich, London, Brighton….

March 2020:We found ourselves in limbo, between two places, negotiating the space between home and studio, and re-imagining the home asthe studio.

Where are the choreographers, dancers, dramaturgs, performers, engineers, sound people, lighting people, set designers, curators? Where are they creating? Are they forced to pause? What happened to this abundant sector?

Creating art, performances, theatre, dance is what we are born with. It’s our breath – it asserts our existence. 

For centuries, these representations have metamorphosed; creators became alchemists and kept on creating magic. In the last few years, through telematics, streaming, interactive design, games, street performances . . . the myriad of potentials has grown even more!

Rehearsal, London Joumana Mourad Lebanon Reem Naamani  
Image credit Katerina Sfaellou.

Always remember your North Star 

I really valued the opportunity to grow as an artist in directions I hadn’t expected while overcoming challenges with the support of dedicated mentors and discovering a new network of creative artists.” 

                                                                                                            O. Pen Be, OOT Artist

Our objective was to create a space where all the artists could be together, and share the experience of all the elements of the programme.

August 2020: The Beirut explosion prompted IJAD to subsidise a Lebanese dance artist to join the programme. There were issues with wi-fi connectivity, but we managed by purchasing a 4G installation at the artist’s studio.

November 2020:We embedded in the programme was a two-day mid-point meeting to go over elements of sensography, and have a sharing of the artists’ works in progress. It coincided with the beginning of the second lockdown, so we quickly adapted it – and our marketing and communications – to be held online. 

Our festival date at the end of November was looking questionable; in fact, everything we had planned soon became impossible and the uncertainty of a longer lockdown took its toll on the whole team. The theatres we were working with had less and less flexibility; some had bookings that we were unable to compete with cost-wise.

All the participants and IJAD’s team made a joint decision to postpone the festival until the beginning of February 2021.

OOT artists were offering workshops and co-creation sessions, IJAD was hosting roundtable discussions, there were artists’ Zoom meetings, all of which kept the mood positive. 

The glimpse of the New Year ahead came with some optimism. Our plans for the festival in February were taking shape. We’d decided to host some panel discussions, and everything was looking good as momentum built.

Remote intimacy, choreography Clemence deBag, collaborator/performer Kristia Morabito
Image credit Katerina Sfaellou.

Know your team, and your collaborators

“I am very grateful for the opportunity; I have learnt a lot about my creative practice and

developed as a person along the course of this programme.”

                                                                                                Daisy Harrison, OOT Artist

4 January 2021:After a day filled with incredible meetings to make plans for the festival, Boris Johnson announced longer strict lockdown measures. Monday night became another sleepless night filled with new plans and strategies. And deciding whether to deliver the festival or not!

5 January 2021: We spent time waiting for government website updates, talking to colleagues in our industry and to dance bodies, with everything and everyone telling us to wait. This was heavy going as there was still a lot to put in place should we decide to go ahead. 

We decided internally that we would keep on preparing, and only in the worst-case scenario would we cancel. By 3pm, we had taken on a Covid health and safety production manager, to navigate the complex safety rules. This was a brilliant investment, as we had someone on board who would act diligently and professionally, giving us accurate information, enabling the team to make informed decisions together.

6 January 2021:After more meetings, and clearer guidance from the government, we decided – with the support of our artists – to definitely go ahead with the festival. 

6-8 January 2021:Looking for a festival venue with all the health and safety strictures in place took time and endless emails, many of which went nowhere. 

Finally we identified one and loved it! We had a date, we had a theatre, and we still had the uncertainty of lockdown. 

11 January:A meeting with the artists. Six hours of sharing narratives, performances, choices around continuing to create, finances, ethics, payments for all the artists, lockdown, lockdown and more lockdown.

Two artists chose to be physically present in the theatre for the festival, another from her kitchen, the rest from their living rooms.

We had until 1 February to pull the festival together, which included six performances and four panel discussions.

It goes without saying our team was dedicated, focused, and more than anything committed to the arts. There was somuch wisdom, kindness and 100% support.

Covid taught us: Be kind, sensitive, grounded and elastic.

If you’d like to stay up-to-date with our work,sign up to our newsletter.

Image credit Katerina Sfaellou.

Thanks to



Audiences, artists and performers: IJAD needs you!

For those who have been with us on this journey so far, you’ve
witnessed our new discoveries and the evolution in our themes and methods of creating and producing. We’ve been using social media to interact and collaborate with fellow performers and audiences alike, creating performances out of these interactions. And now we’re taking the level of collaboration up a notch, and we need your help. Read on to find out how…


For those of you who don’t know, we’ve been focussing on three ever evolving parallel universes:


·      The Personal


·      The Universe


·      The technology of sharing and interacting on the web

Interact with us

Where before we were asking for Tweets that would be incorporated into
our performances, today we are asking for your tweets to interact with
us, to inspire and effect and create the performance itself.

So whether you’re joining us again or new to IJAD, welcome to the
latest exploration in the In-Finite series…


 So what’s it all about?

In-Finite Space is all about, you guessed it, space. And space in all
its forms. For this performance we’re asking you to think about the
existence of 2 types of space and your relationship to it:


–       the space you experience as ‘personal’
–        the space we consider to be ‘the universe’
For example you might think of The Universe as gravity, the big bang
and the stars in the sky. By contrast, we experience a more personal,
perhaps more tangible type of space which is closer to our everyday
lives – the personal space we form in the buildings and rooms we live
in, or the space within our dreams… The third kind of space, the
digital one, is where we hope to see your imaginations at work. We
believe that the digital space we exist in can help us get closer to
imaging the other types of space… Through sharing ideas and creations.


 How can I get involved?


With IJAD the traditional one night stand performance is a thing of the past.

We’ll be having  the conversation from today! You can join us at any
time to give your creative ideas, or comment , or watch. Over the next month, we’ll choose a theme from the above and ask you to give us your take on it. You could send us a photo, write a
twitter poem, sketch or paint your response. We don’t mind what form
it comes in, as long as it’s original and produced in response to one
of our posts.

You’ll find the posts on facebook, twitter, Pinterest and Vine and you
can tag your response with #InFiniteReach.
To get you started here’s your first post, it falls under the theme of
The Universe:


A ripple from the past undulates away from my centre where all
memories are resting, into the extremity of my skin,
Manifesting itself through giggles, games, imagination a world filled
with fairy and astronauts dust, allowing me to take time and space to
recreate a new reality to my imagination.
We’ve also been working on a Pinterest board which you can follow here:

 Need some inspiration? Last year we received this tweet:

sky is
at the end
of my fingertips
As I reach upward
Where I stand
And finishes
eyes closed
in the far corner
of my imagination



and we danced this…..



 Who is IJAD?

We are a performance company dedicated to exploring new ways of
bringing audiences closer to our performances. Over the years we have
done this through digital technologies, live-streaming, photography,
durational and interactive performances. These days you’ll mostly find
us on one of our social media channels – Vineing, Pinning or Tweeting,
and of course, dancing!

We look forward to creating with you!


2013: An IJAD review.

2013: An IJAD review.

This has been a bumper year where the wheels haven’t stopped whirring. Here’s Camilla’s whistle-stop tour.

March saw us present our first performance which combined the three elements of social media, streaming and live performance. In-Finite continued to delve in to the world of secrets and explored the tension of the secret kept and secret revealed. It received over 1000 online views, reached over 400 people on social media and was seen in 11 countries. This was kindly supported by The Asfari Foundation and The Arts Council as well as many generous private donors.

Read the story of Infinite here and view the trailer here.

Not a bad start to the year. We were commissioned to perform a scaled down version of In-Finite in Switzerland for ArtCorps Antilope Festival. Interest in our approach continued and we were invited to run a workshop at Brunel University as part of their Artaud Forum where we built on the outreach workshops we ran at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, London; one of which was delivered across London and Spain.

Swiftly following was more interest from the academic community where we presented our method and it’s applications to the Theatre and Performance Research Association in Manchester. The digital world pricked up it’s ears and we presented our vision at Digital Shoreditch, a week long festival which celebrates the outstanding creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of East London and Tech City. On the self same day we zoomed up to Cambridge to present a screening of In-Finite at contemporary art gallery Kettle’s Yard.

The summer saw us take part in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’ InTRANSIT Festival where we were the largest contributor presenting a whopping 22 performances over 7 days in the outdoor spaces of the Borough and was attended by Councillor Tim Colerdige of RBCK

Sustaining the interest from the academic community we entered in to discussions with Aberystwyth University and the digital performance professor there and opened conversations with Goldsmith’s Centre for Urban and Community Research. A bid for £15,000 to Creative Works London was successful and we are still conducting research with Goldsmiths into twitter conversations that we stimulate for our performances and cultivating new methods of engagement.

Autumn spun around in no time and we were back at Brunel University taking part in a workshop series (also featuring Akram Khan) for their Contemporary Performance Making Series.

RBKC funded us along with The Science Museum to perform again at Nour Festival (last year at we performed for this festival at the V&A Museum) with 3 performances in one night during their Lates series of events about Space where we had amazing attendance online and at the event, the Mayor of RBCK, Councillor Charles Williams attended the event, especially to see our performance which gained 4 stars.

To say a HUGE thank you to all our friends and partners we hosted our First Annual Gala at Camden Proud Old Horse Hospital where we showed snippets of our work peppered with performances from Joumana. We ran a unique Twitter Pilot which was a resounding success that will greatly inform 2014’s work and were able to catch up with you all which we know is sometimes hard at performances!

Links: 19th Storify

We worked with a huge range of talented photographers and artists who worked in parallel to us, with special thanks to Andrea Di Cenzo, Georgia Hackett, Pippa Dodds, Liran Fisher, Emily Pulham, Arabella Hilfiker, Pierce Braysher and our designers Joseph Asghar and David Grant a host of others we’re delighted to have collaborated with.

We achieved a 4 page spread in The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Magazine, popped up in the Metro twice and appeared on countless web magazines including Dance UK and various disability press. In-Finite Space Part I had not one but two embedded journalists working alongside us and were even appear on the radio.

We’d also like to thank our amazing twitter and facebook followers who join in by submitting all sorts of amazing ideas such as poetry, pictures, ideas and answers, some of which really took our breath away.

We have an exciting 2014 lined up, so keep an eye out in January where we look forward to announcing another year of contemporary magic which you can be a part of

Have a great December!

IJAD is going to Camden! 19.11.13

IJAD is going to Camden! 19.11.13

Barry Macdonald

On Tuesday 19th November at 7pm IJAD will be at Camden Proud, the old horse hospital. Proud is a truly unique venue situated in the heart of stables market, just walking distance from both Camden Town and Chalk Farm stations.

Whether you’re a regular member of the IJAD audience (online, at our IN-Finite performances or, of course on Twitter) or want to find out what it’s all about, join us on the 19th! Discover how we’re using tech to make our pieces more engaging and accessible, meet all the people behind the performances and mingle with the Creative Director, Producer, dancers, collaborators, trustees and superfans. Here’s your chance to ask the questions you’ve always wanted to!

Tickets are just £10 and all the proceeds go towards helping us fund future performances.

Tickets are available in advance by donating £10 through our Virgin Money Giving Page, (we will add you to the prepaid guestlist) or you can buy tickets on the door.

Claire and the IJAD trustees

Science Fiction quotes #3

Science Fiction quotes #3

Phillip K Dick

(Hollywood films include Blade Runner(1982), Total Recall(1990) and Minority 

Report(2002), A Scanner Darkly (2006))

This is the final part three of my quotes that I hope to inspire you into finding 
science marvellous. Herbert was a philosophical wrangler, Asimov was 
fascinated by technology – Dick has far more interest in human to human 
machinations and how future advances will bring out the worse in mankind. 
He’s brilliantly dark. 

'It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.'

'My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression.'

'The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If 
you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must 
use them.'

'If you think this Universe is bad, you should see some of the others.'

'You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic 
condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, 
every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of 
creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere 
in the universe.'

'There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' 
anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'.'

'The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides taught that the only things 
that are real are things which never change... and the pre-Socratic Greek 
philosopher Heraclitus taught that everything changes. If you superimpose 
their two views, you get this result: Nothing is real.'

'There exists, for everyone, a sentence - a series of words - that has the power 
to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could 
heal you. If you're lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of 
getting the first.'

'A man is an angel that has gone deranged.'

I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun 
out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we 
actually have does not meet my standards. Okay, so I should revise my 
standards; I'm out of step. I should yield to reality. I have never yielded to 
reality. That's what SF is all about. If you wish to yield to reality, go read 
Philip Roth; read the New York literary establishment mainstream bestselling 
writers….This is why I love SF. I love to read it; I love to write it. The SF writer 
sees not just possibilities but wild possibilities. It's not just 'What if' - it's 'My 
God; what if' - in frenzy and hysteria. The Martians are always coming.
Science Fiction quotes #2

Science Fiction quotes #2

Isaac Asimov 

( Hollywood Films include Bicentennial Man (1999) and I, Robot(2004) )

Isaac Asimov is probably the most well known sci fi author.
He wrote about how technology integrate in our lives. We’re still
fascinated by his work as his ethical ponderings about
the role of computing and robots which are become ever
more relevant as we achieve his vision – you’ll know his work 
on screen with Bicentennial Man and I Robot. I don’t think he’s a 
great writer of people, but great at foretelling massive scientific shifts.

'The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster 
than society gathers wisdom.'

'Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder 
critics and philosophers of today - but the core of science fiction, its essence 
has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.'

'It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor 
in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking 
into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.'

'Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost 
under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.'

'There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it 

'Tell me why the stars do shine,

Tell me why the ivy twines,

Tell me what makes skies so blue,

And I'll tell you why I love you.'


'Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine,

Tropisms make the ivy twine,

Raleigh scattering make skies so blue,

Testicular hormones are why I love you.'

'I write for the same reason I breathe ... because if I didn't, I would die.'
Messages of the Future – Quotes from Science Fiction Authors #1

Messages of the Future – Quotes from Science Fiction Authors #1

What is Science Fiction? An exhibit at The British Library showed to make any attempt to form sense out the world using metaphor is sci-if and traced (extant proof) back to the Ancient Greek and Romans .

More recently we think of science fiction as the type which emerged from the 1900s where magazines such as Astounding Science Fiction and Thrill Book picked up a cult following and was primarily written by scientists. We now have a SyFy channel and a plethora of series on TV making wonder become a staple form of entertainment.

For me, sci-fi is primarily human. The genre uses the future to illustrate the human relationship we have with our physical world. Some writers, like Kim Stanley Robinson write prophetically. His books, Red, Blue and Green Mars are all written predictions after a career working as the Mars specialist for NASA. Other writers use futuristic settings which are outlandish to show what they believe to be the immutable human condition.

Science Fiction writers tend to be social commentators and dreamers which makes their books remarkably accessible. They’re visionaries who think massively outside their time and so, in celebration, I have collated quotes from three sci-fi writers who had quite an impact on me growing up – for the time in my life they appeared to the messages which profoundly jiggled around the way I thought about the world. I hope they you have a similar experience with their ponderings on life.

Frank Herbert Quotes

(Hollywood Films include Dune (1984 – starring Sting))

‘Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.’

‘The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.’

‘A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.’

‘Nature does not make mistakes. Right and wrong are human categories.’

‘Do actions agree with words? There’s your measure of reliability. Never confine yourself to the words.’

‘A person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing you to grow. Without them, it sleeps- seldom to awaken. The sleeper must awaken.’

‘Whether a thought is spoken or not it is a real thing and has powers of reality.’

‘The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.’

‘The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future.’

‘A human being can stand any amount of pain.’

‘The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.’

‘He who can destroy a thing, can control a thing.’

‘There is no escape – we pay for the violence of our ancestors.’

‘Truth suffers from too much analysis.’

‘There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.’

‘Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.’

‘If you think of yourselves as helpless and ineffectual, it is certain that you will create a despotic government to be your master. The wise despot, therefore, maintains among his subjects a popular sense that they are helpless and ineffectual.’

‘One of the best things to come out of the home computer revolution could be the general and widespread understanding of how severely limited logic really is.’

‘The difference between sentiment and being sentimental is the following: Sentiment is when a driver swerves out of the way to avoid hitting a rabbit on the road. Being sentimental is when the same driver, when swerving away from the rabbit, hits a pedestrian.’

And while we’re in the mood for pondering. This is what we’re are doing with In-Finite Space. We’re taking the mathematics of our world and interpreting our human relationship with physics through an exploration of our bodies and minds via a multi-media performance. You can contribute by answering our daily questions about space on #InfiniteReach in whatever format you like (verse, image, video). I would love to know what your favourite sci-fi quotes tickle your mind (Dr Who has some great writers) – let us have them and see if you can spot them in our dance!

Performance Philosophy!

Performance Philosophy!

“AWE: an experience of such perceptual vastness you literally have to reconfigure you mental models of the world to assimilate it”

Enjoy this video, especially if your brain needs a kick. It looks at the science of new experiences and our responsibility to have them.

I like to think of Jason Silva’s Shots of Awe as big thoughts packaged for our soundbite culture.

I don’t think ‘sound bite’ is bad – we train our brains to have fast data intake which is incredible useful and doesn’t stop us enjoying languorous fiction. I’d love forcing my brain in to Baudrillard – but I don’t have the time anymore – so Jason Silva’s great – his thoughts resonate in my head in no time I have now replaced my cigarette break with a philosophy break.

I hope your world is as touched by these two point four nine minutes as mine is.


6 million, million

6 million, million

Light Year – I love meaningful paradoxes.

I recently wrote a post about our relationship with words and spoke about how we use them in performance – but I started thinking more about the first part of the post regarding etymology as I love the word ‘lightyear’.

When you start to learn about space, distance and time become related. (And then you start thinking about time travel but that’s a whole other project ;] ) A light year is the distance light travels in one year. It’s a unit of distance rather than time. I love that humans are so relational in our speaking. If we can’t describe something (like High Street) we describe it by naming it to the most similar thing we know – like pom de la terre. Surnames were professional led (Haddad is one of the most common Arabic – meaning Smith). Surname joiners such as such as ‘bar’ ‘von’ and ‘del’ all state progeny. Descriptive words degrade over time, for ‘Grape Lane’ it was due to ideas o decency (google that one – it’s dirty).

So when I hear ‘light year’ I cannot imagine almost 6 million, million miles (9.4607 × 1012 I can’t imagine 6 million, million of anything.

To my partner’s dismay I have very little grasp of maths or science and when he starts using phrases like ‘to the power of’ I switch off (sorry Greg!) and just think – it’s really frelling big. I can get my head around a year. I can get my head around the fact that light is*really* fast. It works in my head. It’s poetic. Hearing that our nearest solar system Alpha Centuri is 4.367 light years away just makes me go ‘wrahhhhh’. If you like that feeling, I thoroughly recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It’s a very intense (read visceral) novel which is philosophical and immense. As a reader of science fiction you kinda become immune to the amazingness of space travel – Russell’s communication of it appeals to science thinkers but also dreamers like me with the emotional impact. The characters travel there and back in what is only )) months to them. Which is 40 years for earth, for the people they love, for the lives they knew.It’s a stark reminder of how interconnected space and distance are, although it doesn’t really affect our everyday lives much except for the additional 20 minutes it takes me to commute in trainers or high heels (IJAD’s office is up a hill).

I’d love to know if you ever feel affected by the time/distance thing – do you fly across timezones much? How does your linear perception of experience cope? I have a few more things I’m curious about too – indulge me on #InfiniteReach

– Can you imagine 6 million, million of anything? If so, what?

A relationship with words

A relationship with words

One of the things I love about new things whether they’re people, products or discoveries is that they highlight our cultural relationship with language.

Latin and Greek are of course the standard fall-to options; it’s amazing fun to annoy etymologists by mixing them up in words such as ‘automobile’, ‘dysfunction’ and did you know ‘octopodes’ is the correct plural of ‘octopus’?

We have a very intimate relationship with words – they’re collective agreements of meaning and I’m sure we’ve all felt failure about the ineffable qualities of emotions such as ‘love’ and the feelings of ‘longing’ – which supports a whole music industry.

You can’t pin a language down; we hear tabloid headlines that the word ‘database’ replaces ‘foxglove’ in a children’s dictionary, ‘twerk’ enters common parlance or an artist coins a new phrase like Dr Suess’s ‘nerd’.

Ralph Fiennes claimed that Twitter is ruining the English language and he’s not alone in thinking this. What do you think? I lean to the side that whatever aids accurate expression of our personal interpretation of life is valid. I saw ‘FML’ in the Evening Standard the other day – and I thought it was quite eloquent. Twitter is probably the most recent mass-modifier of our mumblings (as TV or radio were to their times) and IJAD’s really interested in the relationship it has with our work. As you know, we’re interpreting what you tweet or write to us on 30th immediately within the show, as well as your sharings inspiring the development work itself – as you can see here (hyperlink to vine).

The movement IJAD uses aims to have meaning without words. To reproduce the complex nature of a feeling within a context so that language is not required to speak to your soul – or any pre-existing understanding of dance vocab – that’s why we absorb many cultural experiences and touch many nations around the world (we had 11 countries in one night in March 2013) and join them together.

We’re getting a lot of poems which we’re finding electrifying to work with in the studio. I tend to think of a writer’s relationship with words similar to a photographer – the subject is there – but the wordsmith or photographer selects only certain things to reveal which makes reality more and less than what it is.

IJAD starts with universal themes – and after asking you what you think – ends with a highly culturally specific piece of work. We’re asking you to lend the way you see the world to us and watch as we weave it into a powerful wordlessness.

Follow #InfiniteReach – we’re asking what inspires you about space at the moment.

And if language is your thing, here’s a quote from Stephen Fry:
“Language is my whore, my mistress, my wife, my pen-friend, my check-out girl. Language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God, the dew on a fresh apple, it’s the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning sun when you pull from an old bookshelf a forgotten volume of erotic diaries; language is the faint scent of urine on a pair of boxer shorts, it’s a half-remembered childhood birthday party, a creak on the stair, a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, the warm wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl, cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot.”