What better way to begin the festive season than with an exclusive three-part Q&A in which our dancers answer all of your questions. Keep reading for the first instalment in which we uncover the dancer’s thoughts on how to balance dance in their daily lives as well as an insight into the company ethos and processes that new dancers go through to build trust and strength with each other.
How do you cope with balancing dance and life outside it, do you see them as one or do you separate them entirely? (Alex, 23)
Rosie: It depends what your schedule is. If it’s based in one place then I could see them as one, but when I’m touring I think I see them as separate. Being a performer you’re totally giving it 110 percent and usually when touring you’re away from “life outside/ normal life”. But that’s not a bad thing.
Danny: I try to keep my dancing and private life separate. Naturally there are some things that overlap, like getting home and talking to your loved ones about your day. I do try and keep it brief though because I think it is healthy to have a certain degree of separation from work. There are certain things that dance stops me doing in my outside life because of risking injury but I also try my best not to worry about it too much.
The works created at Motionhouse seem to continually evolve and become progressively more ambitious. Does the company take into account the limitations of the human body or is there an ethos of “anything is possible”? (Anna, 20)
Danny: The Motionhouse company work together for very long periods. This allows all aspects to grow at a rapid rate. The relationships have been formed over a number of years so there is less time used building up trust between each creative person, be that the choreographer, the dancers, set designer, composer… so every section of the company has a “been there, done that” attitude which allows us to look ahead and dream bigger.
Chris: We’re certainly towards the “anything is possible” end of the scale. Kevin’s really interested in pushing the physical and mental limits of the body and he’s built a team who can reflect that. There’s loads of times we get presented with new challenges where your first thought is ‘not a chance…’ but we go step by step making sure we’re mentally comfortable so that our bodies have the best chance to execute the movement. We’ve all got our fears – for some it’s heights, for others it’s going upside down – but you wouldn’t be able to tell come performance time as all the training behind the scenes takes care of that.
When new dancers join the company, is there a particular process the dancers go through? For example, I imagine trust exercises and strength building must be implicated in order to safely learn Motionhouse’s extraordinary style. (Anna, 20)
Naomi: Motionhouse is in itself a training environment. We promote play, creativity and strength building/skill development. We make sure new dancers are given that time to attempt and try risk based things in a safe, supportive environment. We use crash mats, spotters and always a positive environment to enhance this. Trust with the other dancers builds purely with time. Establishing that working relationship you share on stage can’t happen overnight, however the time we allocate to develop this partnership is valued. Often there is a click and some dancers feel more comfortable with some more than others, that’s natural. Learning Motionhouse’s style and repertoire can be gruelling but is incredibly rewarding.
Danny: There is of course some team building and trust to be built when you first join the company. I do believe however that the calmness and professional attitude of the existing company allow you to settle those nerves quickly and in no time you are doing things you could never imagine yourself doing. I have been with the company for 6 years and I am still surprising myself exploring areas that I was so afraid of… recent examples include: abseiling down an 80ft building and being picked out of the audience by a crane and taken in to the air. (Both of those include heights… I am scared of heights) ha.
A huge thank you to everyone who emailed in their questions, we hope that you enjoyed reading our answers!