Feb 10-12, 2022: 2hr inc interval
Motionhouse, a contemporary dance-circus company, has brought its production of Nobody to HOME for four shows. Each dancer has added circus skills to their dance experience, so the company reaches a wider audience than many.
The first act opens on a set familiar to Manchester audiences, with dancers atop the high-rise blocks of a rapidly changing skyscraper city. For a moment, you wonder if the central image was snapped just across the road. There’s both a connection and a rivalry between the dancers, who resemble crows, zooming around the city, modern style. Reminiscent of parkour or of drones?
The city views change rapidly, through pre-set projections, representing physical change as well as the dancers’ changing views. The opening scenes are mesmerising. The skill-mix ensures that Nobody contains a range of "hold-your-breath" moments, blended into a fast-moving dance performance.
The second act is shorter and feels more conventional, with less use of projections and more use of contact movement. The focus is on the core message: the importance of cooperation to survive and thrive.
Throughout, dancers are both fluid and precise. The dance performance is embellished by the circus skills, which in turn are enhanced by dance power. It’s impossible to determine exactly the line between dance and circus. Circus isn’t an add on, either; it is embedded, and therefore, imbued with the emotion that dance can provide – rather than appearing as a succession of individual tricks. Precision is essential, not only for the throws, falls and catches to succeed, but also to marry the movement with the changing projections.
The set is little more than an open climbing-frame cube, manipulated by the dancers, which when clad also acts as a base for the stunning digital projections by Logela Multimedia and Barrett Hodgson’s video designs.
Set design, by Simon Dormon, and the score by Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson, enhance the work. It is a truly collaborative piece, conceived and directed by Kevin Finnan, who also choreographs with the dancers.
Despite the stunning technical work, it’s the dancing that makes the show. The expressions of uncertainty and fear in the first half contrast with the joy of movement and of working together that shine through the second act.
It’s my first time watching Motionhouse, but the company is now on my watchlist for future productions. Indeed if this show returns to Manchester, or anywhere close, I will watch again.
Tickets and info here