A youthful group of performers brought pulsating energy and imaginative bursts of joy in a family show called Starchitects in Birmingham on Friday (3 February).

Dance company Motionhouse delighted the audience at The Birmingham Hippodrome in a show that seemed to defy gravity as dancers leaped through the air and took a trip to the moon.

This is the kind of dance fusion show that appeals to young and old, and it breaks through language or cultural barriers, as performers use the pure language of poetic motion and athletic choreography to share a story filled with wonder and magical flights of fancy.

The level of trust between the performers is incredibleDan Tucker
The level of trust between the performers is incredible

Motionhouse, which was founded in 1988 by Louise Richards and Kevin Finnan, have been touring shows around the globe – the company performed at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 – by using methods that keep their productions fresh and exciting and by tapping into contemporary themes that affect our world.

As our world begins to emerge from the horror and confinement of the COVID-19 lockdown the show reflects upon that issue in a poetic manner by having the children in the story of Starchitects literally emerging out of the boxes of confinement in their bedroom.

After the COVID-19 lockdown the performers literally jump out of the box of confinementDan Tucker
After the COVID-19 lockdown the performers literally jump out of the box of confinement

The tale that unfolds in Starchitects reaches into the minds of five children who dream of flying to the moon from the confined space of their bedroom. The fires of creative energy burn brightly in their young minds and the group begins to use the cardboard boxes to craft equipment such as a telescope and rocket that will transport them on a journey through space.

Their epic – and immersive – journey to the moon is filled with adventure and excitement as they interact with an alien and moon fairies, and explore the caves and craters that pock mark the landscape of the moon.

Kevin Finnan directs and choreographs the fun-packed show which keeps the momentum and flow bubbling along with an acrobatic pace.

The set designs by Simon Dorman are colourful and inventive and fit the tone and feel of the imaginative show. The backdrops, and Andy Hammond’s lighting, creates a really vivid landscape which ignites the mind of the audience.

The performances are full of joy and exuberanceDan Tucker
The performances are full of joy and exuberance

Sophie Donaldson’s costume designs are woven beautifully into the overall look and feel of the show. The narrative is constantly pushed along by the clever use of the art design throughout the show.

The performers who take on the role of the five children are absolutely astounding. The level of trust and uncanny physical telepathy between them is amazing as they dance, leap and jump, twirl and bounce around the huge stage of The Birmingham Hippodrome, each dancer who is thrown high up into the air – or dangled precariously from a pole as a fellow dancer holds and balances them from a height – is always gracefully and safely caught in the arms of another dancer.

It is such an incredible experience to see that level of connection and know that each dancer understands the speed and emotional flow of their fellow artists.

The dancers seem to share a telepathic understanding and trustDan Tucker
The dancers seem to share a telepathic understanding and trust

A very special mention goes out to the 16 talented young people from schools in the Hippodrome Education Network and dance development programme who shared their Curtain Raiser performance which prepared the audience for the dynamic and imaginative world of Starchitects.

The group of young dancers apparently rehearsed for five weeks with Motionhouse choreographer Junior Cunningham for their sensational performance which had the audience showing their appreciation with thunderous applause.

Starchitects is the perfect show to introduce children to the magical and imaginative world of theatre.

VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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