Motionhouse: Starchitects – Birmingham Hippodrome

Reviewer: James Garrington

Creator and Director: Kevin Finnan

Music: Tim Dickinson and Sophy Smith

What can you do with a cardboard box? When you’re an adult you might decide to use it for storage, or simply put it in the recycling bin. When you’re a child though, you have a child’s imagination – and with a child’s imagination, a cardboard box can be almost anything. If you’ve got a lot of cardboard boxes, and a lot of imagination, the possibilities become almost endless. You could make a roller coaster – or a train – or a fort – or even, maybe, a rocket to the moon.

Before we get to all that, at the press performance of Starchitects the audience was treated to a short piece of dance devised and performed by members of the Hippodrome Education Network, part of the theatre’s dance development programme, where a group of young people have been working with Motionhouse choreographer and director, Junior Cunningham. As a curtain raiser it’s a treat, and a delight to see the talented young dancers having an opportunity to develop their skills, and to present their material on a big stage.

On to the main event and it’s a joy. Cast members come rushing happily through the audience, bounding onto the stage. It’s a sleepover, and look – there’s boxes, let’s play! So the games start, they make a telescope and decide they need to go to the moon to see the Moon Fairies they spied. There’ll be sure to be lots of adventures along the way too.

This is Motionhouse dance-circus which features a lot of their trademark acrobatic style but adds an element of almost pantomime comedy in too – along with a very large slice of child-like imagination. The choreography and characterisations from the dancers both help create the feeling of childhood too, along with some extremely well-synchronised and brightly coloured projections. They skip, they jump, they climb – it’s extremely well devised, it’s dance as though it’s been put together by a child but being performed by highly skilled dancers with a young mindset. It’s also sometimes very funny. Starchitects is short – a bite-size introduction to dance – but it generates a heart-warming glow of recognition in the audience, of memories of the joys of playing, and of watching children play.

Starchitects: a wonderful way to introduce young – and young at heart – people to the magic of dance.

Runs Until 4 February 2023 and on tour

The Reviews Hub Score

A wonderful introduction to dance

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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