An Extraordinary Participatory Project Celebrating London 2012
Motionhouse created a major outdoor multimedia spectacle, The Voyage as part of the official opening of the nationwide London 2012 Festival celebrating the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Voyagewas an epic tale telling the dramatic story of passengers on board the HMS Olympia, a life-size cruise liner built against the prestigious backdrop of Birmingham’s Town Hall.
Created by Motionhouse in conjunction with Australian physical theatre company, Legs On The Wall,and produced by Birmingham HippodromeThe Voyage was our most ambitious production to date. The Olympics attracts individuals and groups from across the globe, crossing oceans on a quest for adventure, pursuing their dreams. The Voyage explored what this means to us all and the vivid, visual and extraordinary performance celebrated the courage and imagination that prompts us all to embark on journeys in pursuit of our dreams.
In the run up to The Voyage Motionhouse ran an extraordinary participatory project called Quest which offered performers of all ages from the West Midlands the opportunity to be part of the London 2012 celebrations. From March 2012 our dancers created material with 7 groups that went on to perform alongside performers from Motionhouse and Legs On The Wall. The Quest performers include groups from Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA), Solihull Youth Dance Company, Stratford-Upon-Avon College, Nova, Coventry PAS Youth Dance, Playbox Theatre and an Adult Performance Group based in our Spencer Yard studio.
Our professional dancers and aerialists from Legs On The Wall joined forces with the 140 Quest community performers, a huge gospel choir and brass band to transform Victoria Square and tell the story of The Voyage. The immersive performance saw the action unfold onboard the ship and amongst the audiences members on the ground. Phenomenal film projections courtesy of Logela Multimedia transformed the Town Hall and the city’s skyline became a dream of undiscovered worlds.
The Voyage was a stunning combination of physical dance, gravity-defying acrobatics and dynamic imagery, which surprised, captivated, and enthralled audiences of nearly 15,000 people from Friday 22 – Sunday 24 June 2012. Setting sail nightly from Victoria Square at 10.00pm the large scale spectacle transported audiences back to the heyday of cruise liner travel between the 1940s and 1960s, and took in the optimism of the era and the mystery of journeying to an unknown land.
As part of the Quest participatory project we recruited 8 dance apprentices to join our company for The Voyage. Four apprentices were recruited from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance; Jade Barton, Joshua Houghton, Tess Letham and Kalliopi-Ioanna Chodrakis (Pollyanna for short). The final 4 company members were made up of successful applicants from auditions held in February 2012. Our most experience dancer George Adams who’d previously worked for Loop Dance Company, The National Dance Company of Wales and Ludus Dance, to name but a few was recruited to learn from Kevin. George was recruited alongside apprentices Luka Owen, Amy Lovelock and Laura Vanhulle who joined the company to work alongside and be mentored by our dancers. The apprentices joined Motionhouse from March 2012 and as well as creating and performing material in The Voyage, they also assisted in delivering the workshops and supporting the creation of the Quest community performance elements.
We also held 2 masterclassesfor West Midlands-based professional dancers/performers and dance students/graduates in our studio in Leamington Spa in April 2012.
The sessions were led by our Artistic Director, Kevin Finnan and some of our company dancers. Both sessions explored the style, content and context of The Voyage.
The Voyage Premiered | Friday 22 June 2012, Victoria Square, Birmingham, UK
For The Voyage production credits and further information about the show click here
Quest has been granted the prestigious London 2012 Inspire mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme which recognises exceptional and innovative projects inspired by the 2012 Games.
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To see more images of Quest in our gallery click here