Motionhouse Youth perform Dark Awakenings last summer. Image by The Lift

Motionhouse Youth perform Dark Awakenings last summer. Image by The Lift

Whilst the company are out in the USA work continues at the Motionhouse studio and offices. In particular, we’re all very excited about the upcoming International Dance Festival Birmingham; a month long festival celebrating and championing dance in its many wonderful forms from the 24th April.  Produced by our good friends at Birmingham Hippodrome and DanceXchange, the festival will be bringing a vibrant mix of world class performers,exhibitions and dance companies to the West Midlands – and we are incredibly proud that Motionhouse Youth will be performing on April 26th as part of the Midlands Youth Dance (MY Dance) festival – full details can be found by clicking here.  As you can imagine, the company are incredibly excited to be performing their latest work Unbound, at MY Dance and we caught up with Motionhouse Youth Dancer Rhianna Lund (18) who has been with the company since January 2013 and asked her to give us a sneak peek behind the scenes into the rehearsal process:

Claire and Motionhouse Youth

Claire and Motionhouse Youth

“With only a few weeks to go until the performance, it’s no holding back! Not that we hold back much anyway, but it really feels like  we’re working full tilt now that we’re less than a month from the big day. Last weeks rehearsal was action packed; every moment counts in these final weeks so after Claire had lead us through a shorter warm up than usual (but no less important – we’re constantly reminded how important it is to get those muscles stretched, warm and ready to dance) we set about working on the main piece.

Rhianna (2nd from left) and the Moho Youth team prepare for another session!

Rhianna (2nd from left) and the Moho Youth gang prepare for another session!

I feel that Unbound truly lives up to its name; we based the piece around the idea of what it is to break away from ‘the norm’ and it’s coming together beautifully . With almost everyone in the class present, we get straight down to the ground (literally, for half of us!) and run through the piece. Last week we had to teach some of the work we had done to some dancers who had missed a session or two, so it was all hands on deck and in no time we were caught up, warmed up and had stunning routines flowing across the floor. With everyone up to speed on what we’re doing, we continued cementing the movement into our muscles and memories. A few tweaks were made here and there to make the routine flow better and we also checked up on the areas that can be more complex. We then put some work into the solo motifs that come after  a section called ‘the canon caterpillar’ which was great to work on as a team. Claire watched us run through Luka’s section to make sure those involved were confident with what they were doing and had the details down; that’s one of the great things about Motionhouse Youth. The details are important but they aren’t limited to the movement, they include how the dance is performed. Who are we? What is this dance trying to show? Are we showing that?

Rhianna and Reuben

Rhianna and Reuben

With that section smoothed over, we turned to the real monster of the evening: the ending. We’d been dissatisfied with this for a while now and tonight was the night we did something firm about it. Our initial ideas for the ending are being reworked because they don’t work easily in terms of where everyone is positioned at that point (which I was a little disappointed about, as I was being swung around Dan’s shoulders originally, which was lots of fun!) so we started something new using  the same dance partners that we use at the beginning of the piece. After a few falsestarts, several suggestions and a good few changes and add-ons, we had the perfect short piece showing both the cooperation of the dance so far and the break away that would follow just after. It still needs work, but doesn’t it always? I can’t give too much away (you’ll have to come and watch us at My Dance!) but we’re finally satisfied with what we have. A couple of complete run throughs of the piece, plus a few laughs when we messed up the new section on one of the runs, and we were done for the day. Cool downs and chit chat saw the last few minutes before we went our separate ways until next time. Found myself humming the song all the way to the train station and grinning the whole time… another great night.”

Some of the group in action!

Some of the group in action!

Thanks Rhianna! The Motionhouse Youth company will be keeping us up to date with how they’re getting on before IDFB here and on our social channels – so if you want to wish them luck don’t forget to like, tweet or follow us!  You can buy tickets for IDFB here. 

Motionhouse Youth is  just one of 3 amazing opportunities we have for young dancers to get moving in our studio in Leamington. As well as Motionhouse Youth (who are all aged between 14 and 19), on tuesday nights we hold Motionhouse Youth Classes  for 11 – 19 year olds who want to learn more about dance, brush up on techniques and keep fit and Thursdays are all about the endlessly energetic Motionhouse Junior (8 – 13 years). We are always on the look out for young, enthusiastic dancers to come along and take part so if this sounds like you or someone you know – get in touch with Claire or Sam to have a chat: info@motionhouse.co.uk

 

Phew! That’s it for us for this week,

Lara and Motionhouse Youth Xx

Kevin calling…

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The tour is flying by...

The tour is flying by...

Kevin here! I’m taking control of the blog this week to share my thoughts on some of the things we have encountered so far…

Tuesday 01 April 

It’s been two weeks since we departed for the USA, the tour is rolling now and it takes on a life of its own as it progresses. We’ve so far hit St Louis, Indianapolis, Terre Haute and have just now arrived in Interlochen and I’m pleased to report that the shows have been enthusiastically received everywhere we have visited so far.

An impromptu post show discussion with American fans!

An impromptu post show discussion with American fans!

There have been post show discussions at the two St Louis shows and there was also a pre-show talk in Indianapolis; people are fascinated by what we do and often tell us that they’ve not seen anything like it before. It’s interesting being on the road with this show – we are strangely displaced and foreign, we’re strangers in a familiar land. I have a strange sense of two things in the same space, as it is at the same time both familiar and strangely alien to us all. People don’t know us but they are keen to find out who we are and their interest in us and the welcomes we receive are incredibly heartening.

It is great that we arrive in cities and towns where people have never heard of us but nevertheless still turn out in great numbers to see what we do. We perform our shows and then move on and who knows if we will ever be back? I certainly want to return as it feels to me like starting a conversation; it’s just getting interesting but then we have to quickly move on… I really do hope that we get back to some of the places we’ve visited (all around the globe!) and develop these relationships even further.

 

Hal had to leap into action

Hal had to leap into action

During the early part of the show in Indianapolis Junior injured his calf muscle. He had to go off stage and missed some sections getting treatment, meanwhile Hal (pictured),who is our male swing (a dancer that learns various roles to allow for nights off, rest and also in case of injury or illness) on this tour, had to run from the auditorium and change into costume ready to replace him where needed. Junior bravely came back for a while and toughed it out in a partnering section that couldn’t be done without him, before Hal leapt in and completed the latter part of the show in his place. We’re worried about Junior; it was straight out with the ice and elevation and we will have to try and find him a physiotherapist next week. I know Junior has many fans out there, so we’ll keep you posted with his progress. Meanwhile the show moved on the next day for a one day get-in at Terre Haute. The crew was great and got the set up in record time so that we could get Hal prepared for doing the whole show in Junior’s role. Everyone worked their socks off to try and get us ready. It’s incredibly tough to be a swing for 4 physically demanding roles and with time constraints you inevitably concentrate on some roles more than others. Hal had the show film to study and was even counting and dancing in his hotel room. He did a really fantastic job and the performance was really great; it had a great energy and enthusiasm and really worked for the audience; congratulations Hal and thank you to you and the team for their hard work!

 

 

As Junior and I watched the show we were struck by the realisation that there was actually only one dancer left onstage from the original seven who had made the show… and that it was the first show Junior had missed in his ten years of being with the company (quite an achievement!), we’re working on getting him better and he is hoping not to be out for too long – we’ll keep you posted.

 

(l-r) techie Rich looking pleased with the signed Scattered banner, Kev and dancers on the road, and one of the amazing towns we've seen.

(l-r) techie Rich looking pleased with the signed Scattered banner, Kev and dancers on the road, and one of the amazing towns we've seen.

 

We got into the coach this morning and drove from 9.30 until 19.0. It was an amazing journey. I had my headphones on and watched the flat land pass by; it is incredibly flat here. Hour after hour passes by and the flat landscape goes on. At one point we travelled through a completely open world with just one crossroads and an endless vista in all directions, something that you would never see in the UK. It was a quintessential American moment and it was a living movie moment. I watched the journey unfold with fascination. After about 4 hours I was struck by the incredible realisation that this was something that I had dreamed of in my youth. At home in my teens in my home on the council estate, feeling trapped and convinced that the world was unfair and against me – I dreamed of being in a band driving across the USA. It was a dream of escape and freedom and it was a consoling fantasy in my teenage struggles. The fact that I had no musical talent whatsoever never seemed to cross my mind, it was escape pure and simple! Now here I am with my company doing just that – rolling through America.

Karma had come for me and I took a moment to notice and say a silent prayer of thanks. Sometimes in the most surprising ways hope, no matter how desperate or implausible, is rewarded. I just sat on that bus listening to a soundtrack of my favourite songs grinning from ear to ear like a fool. Man, what a payback… Good times, good times…

Kevin Finnan MBE

Kevin Finnan MBE

Anyway, the road beckons again and so I will leave you here. I will of course be sending over more of our experiences, photos and films – we all very much hope you enjoy them. Next stop Norton Centre for the Arts in Danville – tonight!

Until next time,

Kevin and the company x

 

(Keep up to date with the company by liking on Facebook, tweeting us on Twitter or following us on Instagram)

Feeling A-Okay in the U.S.A!

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Scattered by Chris Nash

Scattered by Chris Nash

And so they’re off!!  It’s incredible to think that we’re touring the States with Scattered  for the second consecutive year. It seems like only yesterday that we were planning for the first tour; and look at everything we’ve achieved since then, a 25th anniversary, the first tour of our 18th theatre show, Broken and the creation of our newest festival show, Captive  (oh and the matter of bouncing baby girls for both dancer Claire and Marketing Manager Justine!) How time has flown!

Up, up and away!

“We’re all really excited to go back to America and see the Midwest! As well as performing we’ll also be delivering masterclasses to dance students whilst we’re out there, which we all loved doing last time. We’re hoping to be able to see some local landmarks too so we promise to send you back some pictures.. I can’t wait to get back on the road!” – Ally

On the day of departure the team were up at the crack of dawn for their early morning call to the airport, laden with everything they may need for life on the road! There was excitement, nerves and the promise of adventure from the very beginning as the crew prepared to return to the U.S.A and as promised, dancers Ally and Luka have been sending us some wonderful video tour diaries already, so you can feel like you were there every step of the way..

So after a lengthy trip over the ocean, the team arrived in St Louis, Missouri; tired but eager to be reunited with the set after weeks apart.  The tech team wasted no time in assembling the slope and getting the projectors in place for the first rehearsal on US soil and despite being 4,216 miles away, the team began to feel truly at home as they dived, danced and quite literally flew around the Edison Theatres fabulous stage area! Click here for another video diary from the gang as they spend some quality time on the ramp!

Feeling at home in the Edison Theatre and seeing some sights!

No matter how many times we perform the show, before each performance the entire team are equally excited and nervous at the prospect of taking to the stage and transporting a new audience into the world Scattered inhabits and this is particularly true when touring to a place we have never visited before. Kevin gave us a quick call before the first show to chat about this:

“This second tour of the USA is very important to us. With global touring I think it’s really easy to pilot into a city or a country just the once, perform and then disappear forever, so to return to the USA after just a year is fantastic. It allows us to keep building our relationships with audiences, venues and promoters out here who show us such support; just as we do in the UK and Europe. The response was so overwhelmingly positive last time we came that of course you do inevitably worry whether it be will repeated… how our audience will see the show tonight and tomorrow and every night that we arrive in a new state and venue is an interesting question, because the show isn’t static. Scattered has an evolving company and they are having new experiences daily, things change and that is a delight that we embrace when making and touring work.” – Kevin

Thanks! We’ll be checking in with Kevin regularly throughout the tour so do keep checking back for updates from him and the rest of the company as the tour moves ahead.

And so to show time! We’re delighted to report that all three nights at Edison Theatre were fantastically well received by audiences and critics alike;

 

Image by Dan Tucker

Image by Dan Tucker

“Motionhouse were fantastic, amazing, spectacular, beautifully danced and choreographed [as well as] mesmerizing… Thank you so much Motionhouse for an unforgettable performance and thank you to the Edison for bringing them to St. Louis!”Audience Member | Edison Theatre 

“Dance is no longer limited to the floor. The heck with the laws of gravity… Scattered is 70 minutes of non-stop action! You’ve probably never seen anything like this before. This is a mind-boggling show. Catch them on tour if you can.” Inntermission.com 

“What an amazing display of athleticism and artistry! I was awed and inspired by your performance in St. Louis and had a great time meeting the lovely cast after the show. If I was British I’d say “Bloomin’ Brilliant!” But since I’m an American I’ll say.. “Totally Epic!”Audience Member | Edison Theatre

 

Dancers and crew were all really pleased with the reception to the show – the 3 nights at St Louis were a fantastic way to start the tour and we’re now even more eager to head onwards to Indiana (where we’ll be visiting Clowes Memorial Hall in Indianapolis and Hatfield Hall in Terre Haute) this weekend and Interlochen Centre for The Arts in Michigan at the start of next week. As always, If you’d like to see more pictures and updates from America, come and join us over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

One of these fab red hoodies is up for grabs in our competition!

One of these fab red hoodies is up for grabs in our competition!

 

That’s nearly all from us this week –  if you’re one of the eager fans hoping to win the exclusive Motionhouse American tour hoodie by answering our question, don’t forget that the answer to the question we’ve asked is hidden within this blog post.(Click here to find out how to enter) Good luck!

The Motionhouse team (at home and abroad!) Xx