The Dance House has now been open for about 5 years. It has several "strings to its bow": dance classes of many kinds for all ages, a professional-level Dance Academy, and public performances by both students and professionals. Its "Rough Cuts" programmes offer a chance to see the latest choreographers' works as they are being developed - these are very cheap. Although there are several studios, the heart of the House is a well-equipped 200-seat "black box" studio theatre which offers a very intimate setting for performances.
We have seen two performances recently: "Power Games" by "Altered Skin" and "Freedom" by the Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company. The first was a new work which, in my opinion, a good idea which needed further development. However the second was a return visit by a top-flight professional company who have performed around Britain. on the Continent and in the US. This was a stunning fully-worked out production which premiered at Sadler's Wells and has been in several venues since. "Pretty ballet" it is not, however it is modern dance of high quality which is seeking to ask profound questions. (And much cheaper than London prices!)
It is sad that the dance audience in Suffolk does not make more use of this excellent centre. That may be because it is at the "wrong end" of the Waterfront development in Ipswich (a somewhat unprepossessing part of town) or because it is not generally offering a "populist" product. However it is convenient for the University and the new Premier Inn; Ipswich is lucky to have it!
In terms of the House itself, its style is less architecturally inviting than the Wolsey Theatre (though the Atrium features an amazing light fitting made out of ballet tutus!) There is a small bar which opens for performances, an excellent (but not specifically dance-related) gift shop called "Cake and Catwalk", and an attached café which is open every day all day and features regular jazz nights and book clubs. I have not used the café recently; on earlier visits the range of food was somewhat limited, the coffee excellent and the service somewhat slow.
There is (paid-for) parking on the Waterfront and also some free spaces nearby - to be precise, no-one quite seems to know if they are free or not but no-one ever seems to get a ticket! There is also indoors parking at "The Mill" but this is not generally recommended as it is primarily for its residents and somewhat confusing.
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