“Next!” – Immersive Dance and Theatre

Next! Theatre performers

‘Next!’ is unlike any show you've seen at RIC.

If you’ve never been to an immersive dance/theatre performance – one of the most popular trends in New York right now – you won’t want to miss “Next!” performed by 30 RIC dance and theatre students on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Sapinsley Hall (general admission $15).

“Next!” is a series of vignettes that reflect on the human experience using the analogy of traveling through and from an airport. What do we reflect on? Who are the people we meet? What are our experiences? Rather than diving deep in existentialism, “Next!” pokes fun at human existence using air travel as a metaphor.

This production is performed on stage, in hallways and even in locker rooms and closets. But wear comfortable shoes; you’ll be asked to walk and climb stairs as part of the experience. 

“Immersive” performances are just that – multisensory experiences that leave individual audience members feeling as if they have had a uniquely personal experience.

This production was created collaboratively by RIC Professor of Dance Angelica Vessella, RIC Professor of Musical Theatre Bill Wilson, RIC dancers as well as RIC theatre students.

Vessella said she was inspired to delve into immersive dance/theatre after witnessing her friend and RIC alumni Alberto Denis ’97 perform in “Then She Fell,” with his New York-based dance troupe Third Rail Projects LLC.

“‘Then She Fell’ quickly became recognized for its unique approach to dance,” she said. “So much so, that it won the highly coveted Bessie Award for choreography in 2013.”

“I knew that this was the wave of the future for dance,” Vessella said, “and I wanted our students to have the experience of participating in this kind of cutting-edge work for themselves.” 

In preparation for the show, Vessella attended a summer workshop in New York City focused on ensemble building. This fall she invited Denis to teach a two-day workshop on immersive dance at RIC. Later, Wilson attended the latest production by Third Rail Projects LLC, “Grand Paradise,” in New York.

“Bill and I gave the students the theme, and Bill and I directed and fine-tuned the work, but ultimately the students devised the various scenarios,” said Vessella.

“‘Next!’ is unlike any show we’ve ever done,” Wilson added. “It’s been a real learning experience for me, Angelica and all of our students, not only because it was created from scratch, but because it was created with everyone’s input and takes place in 10 separate locations.”

For ticket information, go to www.ric.edu/pfa or call the Box Office at (401) 456-8144.