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Motionhouse turns 30 this year!
With 3 decades of ground-breaking creative work behind us, a thriving education programme to inspire the next generation and so many special memories with our audiences; take a breath and look back with us on a wonderful continuing journey.

Watch this space for interviews with current and past Motionhouse crew, staff and dancers, information about our 30th year celebrations and further updates.
Follow our celebrations on social media with the hashtag: #Motionhouse30
 

Motionhouse - A Timeline

A Curious Day

A Curious Day was Motionhouse’s first major production and was also Southern Arts Board’s first dance and education project.
The work looked at a day’s routine from a child’s perspective, from the home to the playground to the exam room. Kevin and Louise worked in conjunction with two musicians, trombonist Harry Dawes and saxophonist Simon Prince to create A Curious Day.
Based on the philosophy of taking performance into teaching, A Curious Day was our first performance at The Purcell Rooms in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London.
 

Premiered 1989, UK

The Ticking Man

Our research for The Ticking Man took us into Grendon Underwood High Security Prison near Aylesbury, working with both staff and inmates in the special unit known as ‘B’ wing. Through a stunning array of visual imagery, The Ticking Man explored the mechanics of deception and the nature of truth and lies.
The Ticking Man caused a stir with the national newspapers, take a look at the headlines!
 

Premiered January 1990, UK

The House of Bones

This is an extract from one of our earliest productions, House of Bones.
The cast includes our Artistic Director, Kevin Finnan and our Executive Director, Louise Richards, performing alongside Verity Blackman and Dale Tanner.
Kevin and Louise created The House of Bones in the context of the discovery of HIV and AIDS, exploring the great plagues of the past and our social attitudes to disease. The set was the second set built for us by Simon Dormon, who is still creating the sets for our shows today.
 

Premiered in 1991

Speed and Light

Speed and Light was a collaboration with film-maker Christophe Gowans and composers Ray Lee and Harry Dawes.
Audiences saw movement, projected film and live music combine to create a world of motion, light and dreams – a world of speed and light, which the Birmingham Post called
“completely hypnotic.”
 

Premiered 21 January 1992
 

The Curtsy Play

The Curtsy Play was inspired by a chapter from the book The Female Malady by Elaine Showalter; describing the plight of the female psychiatric patients in the care of Dr Charcot in Paris at the turn of the century.Photographs, drawings and visual studies of their behaviour were used to diagnose and analyse their ‘problems’. The women were studied, watched, discussed, but never listened to. In The Curtsy Play, the two women play out a relationship of trust and mutual support.
The Curtsy Play was originally created with a Bonnie Bird British Choreography Award.
 

Premiered 18 May 1992

Arcadio and Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu and touring production Arcadio saw a daring collaboration between Kevin and Louise and leading Spanish installation artist Rosa Sanchez. Rosa created an installation at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, and also the setting for Arcadio. Motionhouse created Arcadio, a touring production with live music, and also Déjà Vu, a series of performance episodes which led the audience through Rosa’s installation.
Arcadio and Déjà Vu were commissioned by Motionhouse and the Ikon Gallery as part of the European Arts Festival, and secured the company a Digital Dance Award.
 

Premiered November 1993

Flying

Flying was a mix of visual theatre and high energy dance, set in a world of illusion in a high rise world of towers and steel. Flying was performed on a high set, inspired by the cross-section of a house, created by Simon Dormon of Oblique and Davey Boyle of Metalhouse.
 

Premiered 20 January 1994
 

Punch

Punch took us from the beautiful simplicity of cave painting to the brutal binary of the modern world. In the yes / no state where only one thing matters – success or failure – three men struggle to see who is on top and fight to stay there.Punch was created during the Suffolk Dance Choreographic Bursary; a joint initiative with funding from the Eastern Arts Board.
 

Premiered 18 February 1994

Geisha

Geisha was about our insecurities and longings, exploring our need to share our lives with others and how we present ourselves and adapt to others as we interact. Geisha was one of a series of commissions by Warwick Arts Centre in celebration of its 20th anniversary.
 

Premiered 16 February 1995

Delicate

Delicate delved into the dark underbelly of human need and desire. It followed the events of one night, where six characters reached out for a cure for their loneliness, dissatisfaction and need, using powerful text and imagery. Delicate was created in cooperation with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
 

Premiered 1996

Faking It

Faking It was our 10th anniversary production. It was about power games, the struggle to be on top and the many faces we don to hide our vulnerabilities. In Faking It we created a world of theatrical illusion, where nothing was quite as it seemed.
 

Premiered 1998

Twisted

Twisted began with the news that something had been released into the atmosphere – it could not be seen or smelt so how did anyone know it was there?
What was more dangerous – the unknown substance or the mystery that surrounded it?
News spread like wildfire and hype led to rumour which created panic.
As events became distorted, so people and things became twisted.
 

Premiered February 1999

Atomic

From familiar crushes to claustrophobic dreams, Atomic was about tiny worlds and shared spaces, and our first production for outdoor and flexible spaces. Atomic toured extensively and paved the way for our flexible performance offer that we still deliver today.
To the strains of plainsong and the pulse of contemporary rock, the 3 characters manipulated and transformed their world.
As the setting shifted from a train to a library to a clothes store changing room we saw their hopes and dreams unfold as they jockeyed for position to claim their patch in their ever-changing shrinking world.
 

Premiered 2000

Fearless

Fearless was about our phobias and our fear of the unknown, examining our doubts and our compulsions in a frantic yet familiar imaginary world. Fearless toured to both indoor and outdoor venues and spaces. Three dancers hurled themselves across platforms, swung and dived into a ‘bouncy castle’ pool. The language was by turns athletic and tender, poignant and funny; the sound world was a vibrant and eclectic mix of the teasingly familiar, the atmospheric and the plain old sing along.
 

Premiered February 2001

Volatile

Volatile was about communication: how we struggle and strive to look for the elusive meaning behind the words we use to communicate – so often missed or misunderstood. Five characters pieced together what they could from the bombardment of the every day. Volatile was performed on an intriguing 2 storey set designed by Simon Dormon to a score of new and found music by Sophy Smith. Volatile was produced in conjunction with Newbury Corn Exchange, South Hill Park, Bracknell and Swindon Dance
 

Premiered October 2002

Dancing Inside

Dancing Inside was an 18-month ground breaking project delivered by Motionhouse at HMP Dovegate as part of Arts Council England’s ‘Dance Included’ programme.
Between January 2003 and July 2004 under Kevin’s leadership, our Motionhouse dancers worked closely with small groups of residents from HMP Dovegate’s therapeutic community to develop physical skills, promote creative exploration and devise 2 performances for their peer community. One was performed outside in the exercise area and 1 was developed in response to, and performed in, their accommodation wings.
Over 8 residencies we used contact improvisation to teach the men skills and build their confidence in their own performance.
Dancing Inside was researched and evaluated by both Dance and Forensic Psychology departments at Surrey University.
 

2003-2004

The Road to the Beach

The Road to the Beach was a major participatory performance event developed in partnership with The Works, Creative Partnerships Cornwall and The Extreme Academy.
The project was the first time we worked with JCB diggers and brought together a team of visual artists, local dancers and Motionhouse, Kevin directed a participatory process in Cornish schools spanning 9 months, culminating in the performance The Edge on the tidal beach at Watergate Bay.
The Edge drew its audience along the length of the beach, drawing on themes of the sea – from a pirate fleet and Botticelli’s Venus, to giant windmills and sandcastles, from singing sirens on the rocks to the 100 strong ‘sea of boys’ and culminating in Machine Dance, for 4 dancers and 4 JCB diggers.
The Edge was performed by a cast of 700, with school children dancing alongside professionals, to an audience of 2,500.
 

Performed 25 June 2004

Perfect

Perfect was about time: the way we witness time and how it pulls and shapes us, draws us together and tears us apart. It was about waiting, nurturing and growing, about our fear of ageing and changing and about our race against time’s unstoppable force.
With heart-stopping physicality, low-level flying and aerial work, Perfect saw 5 performers fly in the face of time, living large, in a time-poor world. Perfect featured an evocative music score, gripping imagery and golden desert landscapes, securing us the Audience Award at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2006. It became a set piece in the GCSE Dance Curriculum in England and Wales in 2010.
 

Premiered 25 January 2005

Chaser

Chaser was 15 nail-biting minutes of dynamic encounters, high-speed socialising, friendly rivalry, flying and falling. Acrobatic, dramatic and engaging, Chaser was created for the outdoor festival market, with its catchy music, attention grabbing style and startling twist to the tale.
 

Premiered 25 January 2005

Dreams and Ruin

Dreams and Ruin was a magical promenade event created in response to, and performed within, Witley Court, a Grade I Listed ruin in Worcestershire. Ravaged by fire in 1937, leaving only a spectacular facade with sweeping stairs and colonnades, Witley Court was one of the great Victorian country houses of England. Dreams and Ruin brought together choreographers, dancers, artists, musicians and 200 community and professional performers.
Combining ensemble dancers with buckets and sheets, flocks of menacing crows, a bawdy feast at a giant table, glorious ballgowns on dappled summer lawns and a balcony scene drawing on both Shakespearean and fairytale imagery, Dreams and Ruin presented memories of past splendour and decadence alongside the wild inhabitants who live in the ruin today.
 

Performed 16-19 June 2005

Renaissance

Renaissance was a large-scale event produced by Greenwich+Docklands International Festival and performed on 16 July 2005. Sited at Three Mills in London’s East End, it celebrated the regeneration and spirit of achievement following the news of London’s 2012 Olympic bid success.
We were asked to create a celebratory event, which would have at its heart a re-worked and developed Machine Dance (originally created for Road to the Beach: The Edge in 2004). In contrast to the early evening bright beach light of its previous incarnation, Machine Dance was now performed at night under huge banks of light on a wild grassy patch of land in a major urban centre.
Taking the theme of the security of our home and positive building and development as a starting point, Kevin created an epic performance. It started with the simple imagery of children carrying tiny glowing paper houses, through large screens and shadow play, acrobatics and stilt walking, to a startling section with dancers, diggers, a crane and an aerialist working in harmony. The finale saw giant flaming windows being raised to tower and shimmer across the crowd, drawing a crowd of 3,000 people.
 

16 July 2005

Driven

Driven was all about wanting more, examining the motivating forces that drive our lives.
Five performers raced in the fast lane, dodging the flying debris, as their lives literally fell apart around them.
 

Premiered 26 January 2007

Underground

Performed by four dancers in a rocking tubular structure, Underground uses stunningly physical dance, poignant imagery and surprising aerial encounters, exploring the intimacy of a crowded carriage, the crush of personal space, the studied ignoring of our fellow humans and the fear of a dangerous stranger.
 

Travellers are thrown together in an unlikely alliance as graffiti artists paint their love in motion. Suspended at odd angles and riding the rhythm of the train, four characters are constantly drawn together then torn apart.
Energetic and thought-provoking Underground is attention-grabbing, edge of your seat dancing. Winner of the Audience Prize at Miramiro Festival, Ghent, 2009.
 

Premiered 18 May 2008

Run!

Run! was a large-scale site specific performance incorporating dance, film, opera, Parkour and a hot air balloon, performed at The Queen’s House in the heart of Greenwich as part of Greenwich+Docklands International Festival 2008.
Commissioned as part of a series of works celebrating sport and art, in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, Run! looked at the relationship between sport and life –  why we run, what we run to and from. It combined startling visual imagery, mass choreography, new music, film and image projection with inventive machinery.
It brought together, for one epic performance, Motionhouse dancers, free runners from Prodigal Theatre with opera singers, children from 10 Greenwich schools and 14 puppeteers.
Using imagery from cave drawings, greek vases, zoetrope and the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Run! told a story of indomitable achievement, pain, oppression, passion, democracy and freedom – and it set thousands of viewers’ pulses racing during the one-off event.
 

2008

Scattered

Exploring our relationship with water, Scattered captures the imagination with its spellbinding and ingenious choreography.
Performed on a vertiginous sloping wall, inspired by a quarter pipe, seven performers slide, climb and dive through a magical world where dancers and images interact seamlessly – plunging into an ocean, tumbling down a waterfall and sliding on a frozen landscape of arctic beauty – a remarkable interaction between film and live performance.
 

Premiered in October 2009
 

Cascade

Set on a submerged house amid rising flood waters, in Cascade, one family scrambled to keep their heads above water and their feet on dry land – four intrepid dancers balanced, fell, slid and tumbled as they struggled to survive.
 

Premiered 1 July 2010

Waiting Game

Waiting Game

This playful, poignant trio between two dancers and a JCB digger turned dining on its head as the two dancers were waited on by a JCB, with the quality of the service leaving something to be desired!

Waiting Game was commissioned by Bullring Birmingham in March 2011 as the ‘Breaking the Ground’ event to mark the commencement of construction on a new restaurant development phase of the shopping centre.

Premiered 3 March 2011

 

Traction

Traction is a stunning Transformer-esque performance that sees 6 dancers and 3 JCB diggers dancing together with acrobatic partnering, animal like strength and unison phrases. A high voltage celebration of the powerful relationship between humans and machines.
 

Traction was commissioned by Bullring Birmingham as a climactic celebration to launch a new development in the shopping-centre.
 

Premiered November 2011
 

The Voyage

The Voyage launched the nationwide London 2012 Festival in the Midlands, celebrating the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Created by Motionhouse in conjunction with Australian physical theatre company Legs On The Wall, and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome, the outdoor physical spectacle included extraordinary film projections by Logela Multimedia, a stunning life-size cruise liner designed by Simon Dormon, beautiful period costumes by Sofie Layton and specially composed musical arrangements by Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson, performed live by a Gospel choir and brass band from Birmingham’s Town Hall and Conservatoire.
 

22 June – 24 June 2012

Captive

Four dancers perform this exciting fusion of dance, acrobatics and aerial work inside a large cage.
Inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem The Panther, this edge-of-your-seat, 28-minute performance, explores themes of captivity.
Trapped, disorientated and shaken, the performers use their skill and instinct to survive in an emotionally charged environment.
 

Premiered 25 May 2013
 

Broken

Broken is a fast paced, gripping, multi-media spectacle that examines our precarious relationship with the earth.
Broken is the second installment in Kevin Finnan’s Earth trilogy, following Scattered in 2009.
Athletic contact work, spectacular acrobatics and a gripping narrative combine with a revolutionary set design, an amazing musical soundtrack and digital imagery that melds with the performers as they move.
 

Premiered October 2013
 

Lost

Lost explores what it is to be both physically and emotionally lost. The visceral and thought-provoking choreography of this 9-minute male-female duet combines our characteristic contact work, complex lifts and athletic precision with emotionally charged fluidity.
 

Sensual connection between the two dancers is fused with raw emotion as one desperately tries to pull the other back from the precipice, catching them just before they fall.
 

Premiered June 2014
 

Tigress

Tigress was developed as one of the highlights of the ‘I Am Tamworth’ initiative which aimed to encourage people in Tamworth to engage with or become involved in the arts.
Combining breath-taking dance and acrobatics with a searing original score, this outdoor large-scale performance took place against the dramatic backdrop of Tamworth Castle.
Tigress told the story of Saxon Queen, Æthelflæda, who founded the castle and the town in Saxon times and led the Mercians to victory against the Vikings.
Motionhouse dancers worked with more than 200 participants from Tamworth, supported by local drumming groups and choirs. Featuring Tamworth Dance Company, Belgrave Taiko Drumming, the Amington Band, the Male Voice choir, Tamworth Voices and the Ladies Voice Choir, this unique event captured the warrior Queen’s electrifying spirit.
 

May 9 and 10 May 2015

Fragile

Fragile was a specially-commissioned large-scale outdoor show created in 2015.
 

Fragile built on our previous work with dancers and JCB diggers, with the addition of cube-shaped metal structures alongside the JCBs to provide additional spaces to house the acrobatic movement that is synonymous with our work. Our professional performers were joined by a cast of young emergent artists.
 

Fragile was performed in 2015
 

Torque

Torque is a fast-paced show that sees four performers dancing in an extraordinary partnership with two JCBs in a display of strength and agility.
Following on from Traction and Fragile, Torque is a whirlwind of excitement and thrilling entertainment.
 

Premiered 13 May 2016

BLOCK

BLOCK is a collaboration with NoFit State Circus; a powerful fusion of dance and circus that pushes the limits of both art forms. With its daring physicality, split-second timing and thrilling feats, BLOCK leaves audiences gasping.
 

What happens when dance and circus collide? When they converge, rub against each other, blend into one another?
 

Twenty oversized blocks are deconstructed and reformed into an infinite variety of shapes for the performers to play on, move with and explore. BLOCK is about life in the city; its contradictions and challenges.
 

Premiered 2016
 

Watermusic

Created and Directed by Kevin Finnan, Watermusic had a large cast including professional Motionhouse performers, singers, musicians, choirs and local community groups.
 

Incredible projections created by Motionhouse’s long-term collaborator Logela helped to bring the harbour to life, telling stories of the relationship between land and water and the mythical history of the area. Renowned Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land wrote and performed the music and also played the role of Queen of the Sea.
 

Watermusic was one of 12 chosen full moon projects in the official programme for the European Capital of Culture, Aarhus 2017.
 

Charge

Charge is about energy, inspired by the role of electricity in the human body. From the electrical charge that sparks human life, to the beating of our hearts and the memories we make, six performers use dance and acrobatics to delve deep into the human body, tracing the incredible story of energy in our lives.
Digital projections create a world on stage where dancers and images interact seamlessly, bringing to life stories of energy in our own bodies and humans as energy manipulators.
In an exciting fusion of art and science, Motionhouse worked with partners from the University of Oxford on the role of electricity in the human body to inspire the show.
Charge is the third element of Kevin Finnan’s ‘Earth Trilogy’, developing on themes explored in Scattered (2009) and Broken (2013) about our relationship with water and the Earth.
 

Premiered October 2017

EXO

EXO is a stunning outdoor spectacle featuring two incredible performers, a JCB digger and a driver, showing an extraordinary partnership in a breathtaking display of strength, emotion and beauty.

The work boldly explores the relationship between man and machine: a whirlwind of excitement and thrills for all the family.

Premiered 25th August 2018

LUMEN

Lumen transformed a disused dock on the Bega River in Timisoara, Romania into the stage for a spectacular large-scale outdoor show, as part of the cultural programme in the lead-up to the TM2021 European Capital of Culture celebrations taking place there in 2021, marking the beginning of the celebrations.

The work celebrated the people of Timisoara, who shine as the constant light of the city during the considerable periods of flux in the country’s recent history, reflecting the theme of the celebrations, ‘Shine your light’.

Lumen saw us work with local choirs and dancers to bring to life the dockside, plus a giant aerial spectacle of boats, bicycles, construction workers and a flying room suspended from cranes to thrill the audiences. This, combined with incredible digital projections by our long-term collaborator Logela, helped us to tell the story of the ebb and flow of history on the city over recent years.

Performed 5-7 October 2018

Gravity

Gravity is one of our brand new duets for 2018.

As we approach 50 years since the first moon landing, Gravity combines hand-to hand acrobatics with Motionhouse’s signature contact choreography. Using breath-taking balances and extraordinary trust, Gravity sees two white-clad performers in an evocative exploration of weightlessness and zero gravity. An overwhelming sense of isolation underlies the precise, haunting choreography.

 

Knot

Knot is one of our brand new duets for 2018.

Knot sees two male dancers using extreme physicality, complex lifts and contact choreography, to explore the many facets of human relationships through physical expression. Twisting and turning, the balance shifts from one dancer to the other as they use their physicality to express their emotions. Inspired by Salvador Dali’s ‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus’, Knot asks questions about who we are; delving into our inner lives and our relationships with others.

Happy Hour

Happy Hour is one of our brand new duets for 2018.

Happy Hour is a playful and humorous male-female duet exploring the theme of meeting a stranger in a crowded place. How do 2 people who don’t know each other react when they meet for the first time? Dynamic lifts, athletic dance and split-second timing make Happy Hour a laugh-out-loud entertaining duet for all the family, as well as a hit at events, parties and launches using the distinctive Motionhouse style.