A ring of brightly lit bodies hangs suspended above the stage of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). A lone dancer writhes and wriggles his way across the circle in which he is encased, launching off one body, spinning in mid-air and landing securely with a soft bump at the next. The framing shape changes and it is as though this twisting solo dancer is stuck inside a human kaleidoscope; his survival depends upon his ability to adapt as the bodies around him move. This is NoGravity Dance Company  with their Divine Comedy Trilogy inspired by Dante’s Inferno, which is sporadically referenced in the haunting Italian voiceovers between scenes.

The scene shifts, dramatically and often. The dancers become monkeys bouncing on a branch, moving like animated hieroglyphs of ancient Egyptian gods. Synchronised reflections play out from the central point, which is over six feet above the stage itself. Next, upon a backdrop of sea blue, two dancers emulate a pair of jellyfish mating. They seem to float effortlessly through the space, using two huge skirt-like white fans that flap open and close with a crisp “phwap” as the pair move skywards and disappear overhead.

The NCPA is far from packed but I’m sure the majority of the audience (many of whom are young children) spend a large part of the performance trying to fathom how exactly these six human bodies are dancing several metres in the air. There are no wires, no obvious device to aid in their visual trickery, and the dancers’ movements barely hint at the truth. Eventually, the audience is handed the key to the magic that abounds before them. Two bodies stand on stage, firmly rooted by gravity. As they share a sumptuous exchange, they are eclipsed by an image of themselves on a screen in front of them — it’s a screen!

The floating, flying bodies are no less magical after the big reveal. On the contrary, the dancers begin to play in earnest with their available tools. Their impeccable timing and control allows the group to maintain a sense of illusion. A movement as simple as walking completely changes dimensions when gravity does not pull the walker downwards through the feet and legs but sideways through the hips and shoulders; yet these dancers behave as though they are moving entirely normally, as they walk up and down Escher-style steps that cross in mid-air.

By far the most visually stunning scenes are those involving long swathes of stretchy fabric. The dancers themselves disappear entirely behind huge lengths of white material and create a vast array of otherworldly shapes. This is particularly impressive because the company dance in perfect unison, their movements precise and exact as they create identical shapes simultaneously.

NoGravity Dance pushed the boundaries of their audiences’ expectations at Beijing’s NCPA with their fun, intriguing and physically astounding Divine Comedy Trilogy. They challenged us to reconsider the effects of gravity as they played with breaking and re-establishing the fourth wall. My only remaining niggle is that the show might be more engaging still if the company were to reveal the filming process itself. But we cannot expect NoGravity to give away all their secrets!