Original music: Tim Dickinson and Sophy Smith

Choreographer: Kevin Finnan and the original cast

Since its inception in 1988, Motionhouse has become one of the largest dance companies in the world. With their distinctive circus-dance style, they create a highly physical form of movement designed to engage and bring emotions in the audience. Anybody absolutely embodies this style, presenting another multi-sensory show that hits the mark.

But first, there’s a little warm-up treat. Members of the Hippodrome Education Network, which includes area schools and colleges, show a short play they designed and crafted based on their reaction to Anybody. It’s coordinated by Motionhouse rehearsal director Junior Cunningham, but mostly choreographed by the students themselves – and it serves to showcase the wealth of young talent out there. Engaging with young people like this gives them confidence and develops them as dancers, helping to create the artists and audiences of tomorrow. What we see proves that – from a talent standpoint at least – the future of dance is bright.

Then the main event. Anybody, a fast-paced, physical piece exploring the tension between our inner voices and our behavior and the personality we show to the world. Although it was originally conceived before the pandemic, much of the work was created during it and it was very clearly influenced by our collective experiences.

It begins with a scene dominated by a massive cube, a cube later revealed to be a frame covered in stretchy fabric. Behind is a large video screen, and for quite a while, that’s the whole set. It’s a minimalist design by Simon Dormon that works perfectly in the context of the room.

We see an urban, desert landscape. Slowly they appear – crows. For a moment, they are the only life form visible in this deserted world, like a vision of a post-apocalyptic landscape. Then the humans appear, but rarely together, and quickly disperse, again leaving the individuals alone with the constant presence of the crows, our inner voices. Every time someone tries to do something, they’re there, obstructing, deviating. The screen shows a large group at a party, a sense of normalcy, but the dancer cannot reach it. There is a restaurant but there is no entrance. Everything seems unstable, disjointed, a feeling of loneliness and a lack of connection. The setting becomes like a cage, creating a growing sense of being trapped as the world shifts around you, out of your control, feeling lost and alone in the landscape – alone outside of our constant inner voice.

Then transformation, as the world changes. The sense of estrangement from the world is gone, as people begin to come together, finding strength in mutual support. Movement is smoother and there is no longer a feeling that the outside world is out of reach, with a more secure sense of balance and confidence, asking for help and getting it, our inner voices are no longer more the dominant force.

Motionhouse’s fusion of dance and circus styles are presented with their usual flair in a show filled with visual magic. The dancers show tremendous precision and strength when using and manipulating the frame, the frame which is sometimes a house, or a cage, or a climbing frame and a balance beam. When covered in fabric, it stretches and distorts our perception of what we see, creating a very effective centerpiece for the job. Anybody is classic Motionhouse – dance, circus, a visual treat that evokes emotions and memories in the viewer – and ultimately, that’s exactly what dance should do.

Reviewed February 4, 2022 and on tour

The review hub score

Exciting and fast

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