Leamington-based Motionhouse Dance Theatre is celebrating a national award, writes Terry Grimley...
Choreographer Kevin Finnan thought he was tempting fate when he decided to call his latest show Perfect.
"I thought if this doesn't go well the critics will have a field day," he recalls. "'Perfect disgrace', 'Perfect shambles'... I thought we'll be torn to shreds."
Fortunately all went well, and around 40 performances into its life Perfect has just won Leamington's Motionhouse Dance Theatre the Critics Circle Audience Award for small companies in the 2005 National Dance Awards.
The presentation at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Opera House took Finnan, co-artistic director Louise Richards and colleagues by surprise.
"We were all sitting there in the back row. It was quite funny. People had been going up to collect awards, dabbing their eyes and thanking everyone, and we had to go up and say the first thing that came into our heads, because we totally didn't expect it. But I did remember to mention the dancers and the people in the office.
"It was a fantastic thing for us, a really exciting recognition of the work we do. I think it's brilliant to have a West Midlands company win a national award, to be up there with other winners like the Royal Ballet."
After its success last year a third tour of Perfect will soon be getting underway, following some changes in personnel.
"We're starting in Inverness and finishing in Cornwall," says Finnan. "We were over in France last year and that went very well, and we're hoping to do more there.
"This show's been a real move-on for the company, it's opened a lot of doors for us. Already a lot of bigger venues are interested in us. To get the audience award for it is really great, because you know you're doing it right on all fronts if it's popular with venues and audiences."
The company's next show, Driven, will be created in the autumn and premiered at Warwick Arts Centre in just under a year's time.
Motionhouse is on a roll at the moment. In March the company will move into new council-provided premises which will give it an integrated studio and office base for the first time. And Kevin Finnan has just completed a PhD in theatre studies at Warwick University.
The new base is in Spencer Yard, Leamington's newly-designated cultural quarter. With recent major environmental improvements at Jephson Gardens and local band Nizlopi topping the charts, things seem to be humming in this once dowdy Georgian spa town.
"When I first came to Leamington in 1985 there was no M40 at that point, and Betjeman's poem about peeling stucco was very apt," Finnan recalls.
"But it's absolutely revitalised now. Warwick University continues to expand and now the Leamington cultural quarter is developing. It's only about two or three buildings but it's a start. It's an exciting time."
* Motionhouse Dance Company performs Perfect at Kingsley School, Leamington, on March 2. During February it is running public classes in Leamington for all ages and abilities, led by professional dancers (details on 01926 887052). For further information on the company visit www.motionhouse.co.uk