How To Build A Universe, follows the story of five individuals who find themselves in a void between worlds. Guided by a mysterious voice, they embark on a journey to create a new universe, one shape at a time, through dance and art. As they dance through a cosmic orientation, echoes of past creations rise and fall, culminating in the challenge of welcoming new cast members who arrive without a map or instructions. Together, they weave a tapestry of movement and emotion to bring a unique universe to life.

The performance, partly inspired by Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, a guide to humanity and the universe… is a show about making shows. Whilst some of the dancers phase quickly into following the rules, others struggle to fit inside these guides and make attempts to escape. Whether spitefully or just as a result of pettiness, the voice decides to upend all the rules and force a selection of ‘stragglers’ on the cast of 5… a selection of stragglers that arrived that morning (both in reality and in fiction).

How To Build A Universe was developed through improvisation with professional dancers and people of all backgrounds. Extended Play uses dance and pop culture to deconstruct and expose the flaws of a society built on systems of hegemony, while aiming to make contemporary dance exciting and accessible to a wide audience. Join us on this journey where dance, art, and spontaneity come together to create something truly unique.

Content Awareness

Haze, flickering lights and fast-moving colour effects

Cast and Creatives

Choreographer: Jamaal Burkmar

Dancers: Imogen Wright, Alex Gosmore, Haizea Andueza, Fern Grimbley, Pablo Reyero

Producer: Treacle Holasz

Production Manager and Re-lighter: Alexandra Anzemberger

Original Lighting Concept: Barnaby Booth

Costume Designer: Andrew Walker

Costume Assistant: Rowan Wootten

Assistant Producer: Zoe Grain

Voiceover Artist: Zane Burkmar

Music Score: Jameszoo

How To Build A Universe is co-produced by The Place. Co-commissioned by The Place and Certain Blacks. Supported using public funding from Arts Council England. Part of Certain Blacks, Soul on Ice festival.

About Jamaal Burkmar

A resident of Leeds, Jamaal Burkmar’s first creation was as a second year student at the Northern School for Contemporary Dance (NSCD) where he created a piece entitled Ocean. The work gained critical acclaim, was performed around the North until it became the first and only undergraduate commissioned to rework the piece for VERVE the postgraduate company at NSCD.

His work is about music, it’s about the world that music creates and the world that our performers inhabit because of that. In 2021 Jamaal became one of 10 new Workplace artists at The Place and has since created and toured Donuts, co-produced by The Place. Jamaal is a Work Place Artist at The Place.

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The Place

The Place, London’s creative powerhouse for dance development, has been leading the way in dance training, creation and performance for 50 years. In a changing landscape, our vision for the future remains steadfast: We are powering imagination through dance, championing new ideas, embracing risks and creating a dance ecosystem unlike any other in the world, with optimal conditions for dance artists and enthusiasts to realise their full potential. The Place is home to London Contemporary Dance School, an extensive theatre and artist development programme, education projects, a range of classes and courses and a nationwide touring model. As a pioneering dance organisation, we are committed to creating no-barriers access to exciting dance experiences and opportunities for everybody, offering a diverse and dynamic theatre programme for audiences, empowering artists and dance makers and giving young people access to the highest quality opportunities to touch their lives with dance.