"It's like being in the middle of a Christmas tree" whispers a fellow audience member to her friend. We are on the main stage at Sadler's Wells surrounded by bowers of low-hanging light bulbs. Lightspace designed by Michael Hulls is the first installation in a new production called No Body. Aptly titled it turns out, as Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director at Sadler's Wells, has commissioned five artists to present works without the physical presence of dancers. Hulls, well known for his collaborations with choreographer Russell Maliphant, fashions a fluent conversation between light and sound (Mukul). Slivers of light trace a pyramid drawing our eyes upwards, catching the wisps of dry ice dancing through the air. There's a collective intake of breath when the rigging makes a rapid descent to stop inches above our heads. The space becomes elastic, expanding and shrinking as Hulls forms a fluid architecture for us to explore. You can hear the fizz of electricity and the hanging light bulbs are warm to the touch, the temperature of skin.

Michael Hulls' <i>LightSpace</i> © Heathcliff O'Malley
Michael Hulls' LightSpace
© Heathcliff O'Malley

Mostly though, I'm stuck by how much Lightspace reminds me of church. Sun rays from high windows forming pools of light on a cool stone floor, the silence of expectant worshippers and choreography of communion. Hulls creates a shared experience for a motley congregation of the curious.   

Next up, composer Nitin Sawhney takes an affectionate look at the history of Sadler's Wells using the space in the tiered public foyers. We are given headsets and set free to wonder. Projected animations weave a chronological tapestry of the theatre's past.    

Like Alice, I've tumbled down a rabbit hole. There's a warren of corridors and rooms tucked away from the public foyers and auditorium. No Body is a promenade performance. Without dancers, the audience becomes the physical imperative. We move, snake-like, around the building; traversing hidden corridors, huddling in secret rooms and navigating staircases. We converge and dissipate in asymmetrical patterns to the eclectic beat of our street shoes clipping the floor. The staff are our narrators, ready to explain the flashing buttons on the sound desk and vast quantity of intestine-like cables that power the lighting rigs. Slowly the layers of the onion are peeled back to reveal the intimacies of a working theatre.

Lucy Carter's light installation Hidden 3 is tucked away in the bowels of the building. In a striking juxtaposition to Hulls' offering, we enter a tiny windowless room in single file, heads bowed to avoid insulated pipes and low ceilings. Cocooned in the darkness, neatly assembled rows of lights whisper and wink at us. Large lanterns emit a warm, all encompassing glow, a kind of a bear-hug from an old friend. Clusters of spot lights flicker, chattering like school girls on the bus. With nothing but a storage cupboard and a few dozen lanterns, Carter evokes a rare atmosphere. She is a story teller of no words, but with much to say. 

<i>The Running Tongue</i>, Siobhan Davies and David Hinton © Lauren Potter
The Running Tongue, Siobhan Davies and David Hinton
© Lauren Potter
 Mid-way through (as best as I can tell), I encounter The Running Tongue, directed by choreographer Siobhan Davies and film-maker David Hinton. This is a 36 hour animation created in real time. Dancer Helka Kaski runs through a wooded landscape accompanied by a score of urban sounds. This is punctuated by a series of vignettes where Kasi encounters people and objects. It reminds me of a social media feed – a mash-up of randomly generated content. The film is delightfully odd-ball and slyly addictive. It's like lying in bed with Facebook, thinking "I'll just click on one more link and then I'll go to sleep" before losing yourself in an internet blackhole.

I'm saturated by ideas when I reach the final installation, Russell Maliphant's Kairos. There's a shared DNA between Maliphant and his long-time professional partner Hulls and it's apt that they bookend the evening's revelations. Maliphant's film - using previously unseen footage shot from his 2011 project Erebus - is quiet and intense. As if they are being chiselled from a block of stone, the dancers are covered in a white chalky dust. Their movement is like a long drawn out breath. The slow-paced images gently wash over the audience; some of us linger, while others only pause – passing through on their return into reality.

I confess I was circumspect at the outset. Was this a vanity project for a small elite in-crowd? My nagging doubts evaporated in Hulls' cathedral of light. I'm a convert to the point of evangelism. No Body is like a full immersion baptism. Sadler's Wells has created an absorbing, dare I say, quasi-religious experience. Grab a ticket while there's still time.