Sparklemotion

Let them eat cake!

Let them eat cake!

It’s hard for me to separate myself as a choreographer from my dance troupe Sparklemotion – where one ends, the other begins. All my achievements have been under the Sparklemotion umbrella and I see everything I do as being a Sparklemotion project.

I’ve tried to create something original, but with an old school charm; a dance troupe with a knowing twinkle in their eyes and killer routines in their pockets. l guess my choreographic motto is pretty simple: to make interesting work with a beating heart and a great soundtrack.

Over the years we have performed with and for a diverse and colourful array of artists ranging from the ultra kitsch to the mega cool. We’ve danced with cabaret stars and hipster bands; in nightclubs and art galleries; at music festival and weddings. Anything goes and that’s what makes Sparklemotion so exciting for me, it never sits still. Bring on the next adventure…

Rick Astley

Tie me up, tie me down

Tie me up, tie me down

Amazing. Mega. Random much? Oh yes, another surprising Sparklemotion adventure sallies forth. This time with (is this really happening?) Rick Astley. He of PWL tea boy fame. The man who shocked us all on TOTP back in the day.

When I got the call about this job you could have knocked me down with something much lighter than a feather. It’s all thanks to AMAZING director Michael Baldwin—a man who made us look pretty damn good in a Cocknbullkid video and who seems to really like what I do. Lucky me.

So, the brief this time was “badass angels”…saving our hero from a nasty demise in a Soprano’s-style “to the bottom of the sea you go” scenario. Dancing-wise the challenge was to come up with something nonchalant and cool, a bit cute and a lot sassy.

Shoot day and once again we’re in our usual industrial setting. It seems that Sparklemotion will only do video’s where a hi-vis vest has to be donned to go to the lav. Ha ha!

It was actually a beautiful day—sun shining and everyone working hard to get the job done. Taught the routines in a shipping container, got angel-ed up in our customised leather jackets and kicked up some dust with our bad-ass moves. Chrissie even got a kiss!

Result? A totally fab video. WOW. Michael Baldwin you are my hero. And as for mister Astley himself, what a dude. His album is called 50 y’know. Respect is due.

Field Music

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up!

So, in 2014, 12 years into this adventure, Sparklemotion finally made it to Worthy Farm.  [Read more…]

Fake Kate Fun

Three colours red…

2014 was the year Kate Bush returned to the stage. Wow. Unbelievable etc. etc. Sadly she overlooked Sparklemotion [Read more…]

Heart-shaped Moscow

Baroque’n’roll

Baroque’n’roll

Hanging out with our favourite, Boogaloo Stu, in a super-glam restaurant in MOSCOW. Not joking. This place is nuts…

Arrived. Picked up at airport by smiley, friendly, dope-smokey Sergei. The three of us tucked into the back of a car…Sergei and his pal up front, toking on a great big reefer (jail if you get caught!!!)

Welcome to Mokba. We’ve done this before and the driving/traffic/near-death-scrapes are what I always seem to come away with (that, and a headache). However, this trip bucks the trend and we have an altogether different, less vodka-based time. For starters, we see Moscow by day. Plus its tropically hot (I know, weird, right!). Our host, Sergei, he of the reefer, is a jolly fellow who is keen to impress. We eat a HUGE dinner of strange pickled soup and about sixteen salads (was that the munchies I had??)

Next, we waddle bloatedly to a pretty park and hang out on some big green cushions (where Sergei drops his dope into the actual grass). My ankles have swollen to unknown proportions…it’s 35 degrees for god’s sake! Then it’s show time. HOT. And WEIRD. Performing on the bar of a restaurant (why is it never simple???) to a handful of bewildered diners. They brought us to Russia for this???

Stu cuts an unusual (possibly controversial) figure in this upmarket Moscow eaterie. I’m not sure they’re accustomed to (or tolerant of) men in gold leotards. But, we get through it without incident and are then whisked off to a club. Amazingly, we manage to have a fairly early sober night (this is not the way previous trips have ended) and get to have a lovely walk round Red Square the next day. I cannot believe I actually saw something other than the inside of a nightclub. Yay! And btw, that stereotype about Russian women being beautiful. It’s true.

La La Latitude

Champion sound

Champion sound

Backstage at Guilty Pleasures. It’s DRY! 5000 shiny happy people raving in a tent…bring it on!!!

Latitude is really fun. If you haven’t been, you should go. It’s so pretty and gentle and full of interesting things to do. I know, I know, that all sounds a bit sensible but this is a festival for grown-ups and I’m fine with that. I like it that people pick up their rubbish and go to poetry readings and pop off to bed by midnight…

So, yeah, Latitiude is great, but Guilty Pleasures at Latitude is greater. P.A.R.T.Y. It’s funny, cause the Elbow-loving, Guardian-reading, 6music-listening Latitude clientele probably wouldn’t go for the GP vibe normally…in fact, they’d run a mile. But whack a bit of Katy Perry on in a field and people go bonkers.

For Sparklemotion, this gig is a bit of a ‘moment’. You see, I was in the crowd many years ago and I saw the GP dancers and I thought ‘I want that gig’ and blow me down, here we are. The first year we nearly died of shock. 5000 people!! That’s a big number for a small dance troupe. But we’re cool with it now (ha ha, not really!)

That is so CB!

Legs & Co...

Legs & Co…

Here we are rocking out in full mummy regalia with the amazing Catherine Bennett. You don’t know who she is? Well, wise up and check out her amazing website!

But seriously, Bryony Kimmings’ latest project ‘Credible, Likeable, Superstar Role Model’ is beyond brilliant. A pop star as imagined by a nine-year old? What took the world so long! I could go on about this for days but I’ll just say that I am in love with everything about it. Here we have a pop star who wears knee length skirts and great big glasses; who works in a museum and writes songs about polar bears and lazy people (finally, someone not singing about being in a club!!!!). I’m just in awe really. Brave, interesting and wonderful.

Bryony herself is pretty wonderful too and asked me to choreograph a ‘mummy’ dance for the Apathy video (that’s mummy as in Ancient Egypt, kids – don’t make the same mistake I made). Suggested inspiration was Daft Punk’s ‘Around the World’ with a bit of vogueing thrown in for good measure. We had a super fun day in the paleontology department of Manchester museum for the video shoot and now Sparklemotion do a full mummy routine at special CB events, including the Soho Theatre kids show you can see in the picture. That’s us on the floor. ‘Tis a glamourous life!

Guilty Pleasures

marianne-machin-guilty-pleasures

So, what to say about GP? The daddy of pop clubs. A superbrand with nights all over the world and a pop sensibility that is borne out of a total love and respect for the music they play. And they have dancers. And they REALLY look after their dancers. It’s a BIG DEAL and Sparklemotion have been lucky enough to be part of that. This is the one job I really really wanted so it’s literally magic that it came about.

There is definitely a kid in a sweet shop element to Guilty Pleasures for me. The idea that I can sit down and pick any song from the entire wonderful pop canon and then make up a dance to it is just crazy. And it’s been great in other ways too cause I think I can err on the conservative side and you have to let that all go to make an impact at a GP night. It needs to be WILD. I’ve had to learn to add a sense of spectacle to what I do and I’ve loved it.

More importantly, without GP I never would have discovered I looked so good in a beard, so, for that alone, Mr Rowley and your Guilty Pleasures, I salute you.

It Ended on a Carpeted Stage

British She Power!

British She Power!

This is another one of those ‘pinch yourself’ moments for me. When Sparklemotion get to work with musicians I love and respect it just feels unreal. I live in Brighton so I’ve always know about BSP ‘happenings’ – club nights filled with sounds, insanity and foliage – I just never imagined my choreography would be part of the madness.

This gig came about through a mutual friend (thank you Ruth) and resulted in Sparklemotion performing at some of the bands Krankenhaus nights. I can’t tell you how terrified I was the first time we danced. I mean, you’re really putting yourself out there because who knows what the fans will make of a disco fancying dance troupe at a super cool club night??? But this is what makes BSP so special…bands like Savages, Bo Ningen and Parma Violets perform alongside  yodellers, poets and giant bears. And the audience love it…they know to expect the unexpected and they just soak it all up (along with large quantities of beer).

In early 2013 I choreographed a routine to the Machineries of Joy single and Sparklemotion performed it at the album launch party which was held at the legendary 100 Club on Oxford Street. An amazing rock’n’roll experience and one that knocks me sideways with pride. And yes, on that occasion there was no oil, just carpet.

The Cancer Slam

UK Garage

UK Garage

David Wilson is a dude. He is also a an amazing video director I’ve been lucky enough to work with on a few projects.

In 2013 Cancer Research chose David to direct a video for their Race for Life campaign. The brief was to create a full length pop video featuring a simple and iconic dance routine that participants and their friends and families could learn and perform en masse at the race meets. A fantastic idea for a fantastic charity and I was obviously thrilled to be part of the project.

My job was to invent the dance, which might sound easy, but creating simple yet original and exciting choreography is actually very, very hard. David and I worked together using Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2 as our inspiration (slinking across a parking lot looking effortlessly cool) and thus the Cancer Slam began to take shape. I even had to name the moves to make it easier for people to learn (armpits!).

The video shoot itself was an experience never to be forgotten…16 hours outside in a scrap yard on a grey and freezing February day. Brrrrr. But my god, the result is perfect – a fierce, super cool promo with an unforgettable message.