Be warned: this is not a show for the fashion conscious. The 'aqua jackets' provided for audience members have more than a passing resemblance to bin liners, but provide much-needed protection from FLOW's very literal association with water. Nevertheless, any temporary dampness is more than made up for by the show’s exquisite choreography and exceptionally talented cast.
Inspired by the properties of water, Hubert Essakow's stunning work is hard to describe. At times choreography is fluid, at others robotic, and dancers use a wide vocabulary of movement from sliding and reaching to lifting, spinning and collapsing. Against the accompanying soundscape of music, electronic sounds and the spoken word, a huge sense of tension and anticipation is gradually built.
Performed at The Print Room in Notting Hill, the dance space is small and intimate with audience seated on all four sides. Centre stage is a hollow fabric pillar onto which moving images are projected, giving the appearance of a cascading waterfall. Dancers perform within this column and the fabric is also lifted to form a backdrop for text; facts such as the amount of iced water required in the perfect martini and a satirical comment about company Thames Water are balanced by more sobering information concerning waterborne diseases and related deaths. The dancers themselves also share stories – collecting water from a stream as a child, and enjoying the feeling of bodily sweat.
The whole experience is immersive and captivating, encompassing humour, passion and sincerity. When finally water showers from the ceiling and soaks the cast, there is a real sense of release as they freely splash about.
Such relief is short-lived as FLOW finishes with an exploration of the aftermath of water's potential to overpower people. Dancers lie still and then seem to be reborn as they make their hesitant closing steps across the water-logged stage.
FLOW is at The Print Room until February 23. Tickets priced £15-£20 are available here.
Pictured: Sonya Cullingford and Simone Muller Lotz. Photo by Hugo Glendinning