Motionhouse's visual poem about water 

click to enlarge Motionhouse performs Scattered. - CHRIS NASH
  • Motionhouse performs Scattered.
  • Chris Nash

It's become an international touring sensation blending intense physicality and evocative visuals, but the U.K.-based dance company Motionhouse, performing March 28 at Clowes, started as small as the rest of us. Co-founder Kevin Finnan takes it from the beginning, about 25 years ago.

"There were just Louise [Richards] and I and two musicians in a beat up family car," Finnan explains on a Skype call across the pond. "Whenever we needed to change the lights, we'd choreograph a solo so that one of us could run off and change the lights."

Over time, Motionhouse grew into one of the leading dance theater companies in the U.K., touring multiple productions throughout Europe and the world. The company hit new heights in 2012 during the London Olympics, when it performed one of the largest single commissions for the Cultural Olympiad (a series of cultural events in the Olympic Village) and choreographed the opening ceremony of the Paralympics.

"That was massive," Finnan says of the opening ceremony. "One billion people saw that. It was an awe-inspiring experience, because you know that you can perform your shows in theaters every afternoon and every night for the rest of your life, and you wouldn't get anywhere near those numbers. It's a massive thrill and very humbling."

Building on its reputation for extreme physicality and inventive productions, Motionhouse blends acrobatics, gymnastics and circus in the touring production of Scattered.

"We are a dance spectacle company," Finnan says. "We really push the dancer's physicality and expand the type of physical vocabulary we expect the dancers to do. Audiences are going to see a company of dancers flying full throttle through a show which is visually quite stunning."

The visuals in Scattered were created by Logela Multimedia, a Spanish company Finnan discovered six years ago while on tour. Finnan eventually traveled to the Basque country to convince the group to collaborate with him. Founded by a musician and graffiti artist who worked in a street art collective and hosted break dance festivals, Logela matched well with Finnan's sensibilities.

"Here in London, there are lots of companies doing cutting-edge, computer graphic work," Finnan says. "But a lot of it kind of celebrates how technical it is. What I liked about Logela is that there is something wonderfully Spanish about them. They are quirky and have a surreal quality that really appealed to me. I thought it would be more emotionally engaging to blend that into working with dance."

Finnan describes Scattered as a "visual poem" that celebrates the beauty of water. He views dance as a "beautiful art form" that people can discover "their own meaning" through.

"I do a lot of hiking in the north of Canada and Rocky Mountains," he says. "There is one place in Canada where you stand there and watch the water dribble away, and you know it's going to five different oceans and that's pretty incredible. Water is a miracle in our lives."

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