Wow! Even by our standards, the past week has been a truly fantastic and hectic week for us here at Motionhouse. I took my first trip abroad with the company to Marseille-Provence as the company performed Traction as part of the Machine Dance series on Prado Nord beach for the European Capital of Culture 2013 Celebrations. It was a great honour to be asked to perform as part of the celebrations and we are still reeling a week later from the reaction we got!
Six dancers, three JCB drivers, Artistic Director Kevin Finnan , Production Manager Peter Herbert and I, flew out to Marseille to be reunited with the JCBs for the first time since November 2011 – and with a new driver and three new dancers all learning a new show alongside safety measures, the pressure was on from the moment the plane touched down. After meeting the event organisers, lighting crew and all the other fantastic people that were helping to run the event, it was straight down to rehearsing. Fortunately, months of clambering and tumbling on the Scattered and Captive sets have given Traction first-timers, Martina, Danny and Becci nerves of steel and after a thorough safety briefing, it was straight onto the diggers to build trust with their drivers. Rehearsals proved challenging every day as all the performers found working on a beach much more difficult than expected; bright sunlight obscured vision during the day, dust and grit irritated eyes as it was kicked up during lifts, sand made running and
jumping quickly much tougher than usual and strong winds of up to 23miles per hour complicated matters further. We all knew that every second we got to prepare counted, and every day, the choreography was painstakingly analysed, run, rerun and then run again to make sure everyone was comfortable, confident and most importantly, safe. So, with a solid week of rehearsing under our belts and with dancers and digger drivers working perfectly together – disaster struck at the 11th hour when the night before our premiere one of the JCBs froze on our final run through. We soon discovered that in order to fix the problem, we would need a new part and a giant crane to lift the digger from the sand, but as it was a French national holiday and 10.30pm at night- we were left with no option but to reluctantly head away from the beach to leave Kevin to think through how the show could be performed with just two diggers if the misbehaving machine couldn’t be repaired. A sleepless night loomed…
Happily for us, the next morning brought the arrival of a spare part and a giant crane (in that order!) and whilst our amazing drivers Kev, Bill and Stu helped the mechanics, the dancers warmed up and met local press and enthusiastic spectators who had arrived early to secure a good spot for the premiere.
And so, to the performances! The huge crowds that flocked to the beach to watch us (around 16,000 people in 4 shows), blew us away! Our premiere was a truly special moment for us all: with the sea at the back of them and a sea of people in front and to the sides, the dancers and drivers pulled out all the stops and the show was met with gasps, cheers, wild applause and plenty of calls for an encore – which were met as we performed the show 3 more times over the next 24 hours, each time to an enthusiastic, appreciative audience. You can see even more images from our performances over on our Pinterest page and of course, on our Facebook and Twitter.
So its back to the UK – but there’s no time for a break because on the 25th of May we will be premiering our new work, Captive to audiences at Salisbury Festival, and we hope you will all be Captivated by what you see!! Powerfully physical, emotionally charged and extraordinary, Captive is a dazzling blend of dance and aerial performed and breakneck speed with a dynamic narrative which will appeal to a wide range of audiences.
While we have been putting the final touches to Captive, we have also been planning celebrations for our 25th anniversary with free outdoor shows in our home town Leamington Spa. On Friday 5th and Sunday 7th July we look forward to welcoming many of you to Leamington for free outdoor performances of Underground, Captive and Cascade as part of the town’s Independents’ Day, a celebration of unique and independent businesses in the town and a very special offer for local residents and visitors alike. Independent retailers from shops around the beautiful regency town will be coming together in a festival of vintage and unique products and services, aiming to show that customer service and entertainment are essential elements of shopping in Leamington.
Following the Captive premiere at Salisbury Festival, we will be performing the free show for a genuinely diverse range of audiences at locations including Tamworth Castle Grounds, Kaldearte in Spain, Greenwich International Docklands Festival , Whitehaven Harbour – Cumbria, Winchester Hat Fair, Kingsbury Water Park – Warwickshire, Festival Boulevard – Netherlands, and Stockland International River Festival. Check the website for details and our full range of tour dates, and don’t forget to get in touch to let us know what you think, or post your thoughts online when you see the show. Don’t forget, if you would like to get more involved with Motionhouse and support us in making new work, and touring our growing repertoire you can see the various ways that you can get involved with the company on our Join Us page. Every pound that we raise in donations is matched by Arts Council England through their Catalyst scheme and every pound helps!
Well, that’s all from me for now, don’t forget – you can keep up to date on our Social pages with everything we’re doing!
Lara and the Motionhouse team.