Tuesday night at The Baths Hall, the Arts council and NL Arts & developments brought Motionhouse with one of their newest performance “Charge”.
Motionhouse are a dance company based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Contemporary dance isn’t for everyone but we thoroughly enjoyed it. I sort of knew what to expect from a dance circus as last year we attended a lot of the Hull City of Culture performances and events. I wasn’t sure how well this type of event would attract an audience in our small town as opposed to the city of culture.
As always we were greeted by friendly and helpful staff at The Baths Hall, we entered the auditorium to take our seats. The stage had a purpose built rig installed with what looked like a plain black backdrop and electricity bolts and shock sounds coursing across the screen before the performance.
Upon first look at the backdrop, we didn’t realise the versatility of it and the simple cleverness to it. First off we are shown the image of a frog projected onto the backdrop and we see this throughout. I wasn’t really sure what this had to do with anything but as later explained in a Q&A with the dancers and rehearsal director, the frog experiment dates back to early science, where it was discovered electrical powers can control the body, “The Spark Of Life”.
The whole show was based on electricity in the body, exploring energy, how we use it in our bodies and in our lives. From the electrical charge that sparks human life, to the beating of our hearts and the memories we make.
Powerful and eye catching graphics were digitally projected throughout, with carefully placed choreography to fit the background imagery. Being in the right stage position at the right time was key for these talented performers. The projections also acted as a variety of props but it’s easier to see than explain. For one example though, the performers all stood together on stage and human hearts were projected onto their chests as they pulsated their bodies to the beat and performed their routine.
The most reoccurring digital projections were that of a cityscape and human body elements including the heart. In the Q&A it was explained a cityscape is somewhat representative of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, when the lights go out the mind is dark. There was so much thought and meaning that had gone into the performance and I think after it being explained if I were to watch it again I’d understand it that little bit more.
Kevin Finnan the artistic director and one of the founders of motionhouse came up with the idea behind it all to combine the arts, dance and science together. Even spending time in a laboratory for research. This show “Charge” also completes Kevin’s earth trilogy.
The performance was faultless; the six performers gave it their all. It was incredibly well thought out and movements were smooth. There was always something to look at on stage. I was really impressed by the set as I mentioned earlier it looked like a black backdrop, but once the digital projections got going and the performers started to use this set more and more in mesmerizing ways, it became apparent that there were two levels and so many uses, with dancers weaving in and out of sections of this projected set. Hanging, jumping, dancing and swinging around the stage.
Lighting tricks and projections really added to the magic and wonderment. To see a girl stuck sideways floating on a backdrop or seemly disappearing into it, to someone who didn’t understand how, it’s rather impressive!
The performer’s timings and movements were articulate; the intricate moves and positions were skilled.
After the show the performers sat down with members of the audience in the bar to answer any questions about the performance, motionhouse and their personal experiences and discussed how they got where they are now. It was really nice to see so many people asking questions and showing a genuine interest in what they had to say. Young dance students sat with pen and paper and seemed inspired by the members of motionhouse.
For anyone who wouldn’t usually go and watch this sort of thing, I’d really recommend it, I’m not easily entertained but motionhouse kept my attention and impressed me. I also liked it more because it was in Scunthorpe and it was great to see something like this performed here. I wasn’t sure if it could live up to my expectations or surprise me, after seeing large scale outdoor projections and dance performances. But I am pleased to say I really enjoyed it and I really wish more people would support shows like this. It seems sometimes people stick to what they know and in a lot of cases this is sad, because sometimes what you don’t know can shock you (in a good way). It goes for anything, whether it is bands you’ve never heard of, plays you’ve never seen or maybe a venue you’ve never visited.
Tickets were very affordable and you definitely got your money’s worth, if you ever get the chance to see motionhouse, do it!
Founded in 1988 by Louise Richards and Kevin Finnan MBE, we create world class dance-circus productions that tour extensively to rave reviews across the globe. From full-length productions for theatre touring to flexible work for the outdoors and large-scale performance events, our sell-out productions integrate athletic physicality, powerful narrative, incredible digital imagery and emotive sound scores.
Our work takes its inspiration from common human concerns and our connection to the world in which we live, with recent works exploring flooding, the pressure of time, fear and captivity, and our relationship with water, the Earth and energy. Our dancers perform on stunning sets, alongside JCB diggers, with aerialists and singers, in incredible settings and to breath-taking effect.
Arts Development at North Lincolnshire Council
If you are interested in Theatre & The Arts then I would recommend subscribing to the Arts newsletter via the council website or I try to post it on Scunthorpe Nights once I receive it. The Caribbean Carnival in the town centre was through the Arts and a lot hadn’t heard about it until it was happening so make sure you get the monthly newsletter as it is packed with different activities and shows for adults and children surrounding the arts.