Want My Job? Louise Richards, Director Motionhouse

The Executive Director at award-winning, internationally touring dance company, Motionhouse, Louise Richards, told me about what it takes to do her job.

Want My Job? Louise Richards, Director Motionhouse

What is your job title and what does your job entail?

My job title is the executive director at Motionhouse. It's a big job, I'm actual the founding director of Motionhouse, I started the company back in 1988. So I've had every conceivable position in the company over that 28-year period and what my role is mainly about now is forward planning, business planning, strategic management of the company. So with Kevin I develop the artistic vision and then I look at how we can put the artistic vision into practice: what does that mean in terms of the projects we select; what kind of partnerships we develop; where our work will tour; and how, most importantly, how we'll pay for everything.

What's great about your job?

I think, like with any job, there are some great bits and some not-so-great bits. I think what's great about my job is seeing things that go from a brilliant idea to reality – so making things happen.

What are the bits you don't like or find challenging?

I think if you're in a worthwhile job, there's always plenty of challenge and that's what keeps you interested. The bits that I'm less keen on is the constantly pressure to balance budgets, which is pretty common across the arts sector.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

Well, the bulk of my career has been running Motionhouse. I worked with a dance company before started Motionhouse so I was in my early twenties when I started this company so really my entire career, to speak of, has been with Motionhouse.

There've been many, many highlights, not least that the company's still going after all this time. But there's always a real high when we develop a new show. I love seeing the company perform, I always have and, for me, that's what drives my passion for my job.

Can you describe your career's biggest challenge and how you overcame it?

I wouldn't say there's one single biggest challenge; I think that, in the sector in which we operate, starting a company is an enormous challenge. Achieving a long life for that company is an extraordinary challenge and so I think I constantly overcome circumstance to keep the company in motion.

What's your advice for young people who want a job like yours?

I think that it's very easy for young people to only think about dancing when they think about a dance company and maybe struggle to think of what other careers there are and actually, within any arts company, but obviously I can talk specifically about Motionhouse. There are lots and lots of different ways to be involved with the company.

Obviously, there's performing, there's teaching, there's choreography, there's the technical side of things. Then, within the office team there are some really exciting jobs, which are to do with digital and social media, marketing, administration, booking tours, fundraising, there are so many different jobs I think that people should certainly try and really experience the opportunities that are available.

How did you get into dance and why are you intrigued by it?

I always wanted to dance when I was a little girl but, like a lot of people, I thought that, as I hadn't started dancing at three, I was already too old by the time I was eleven.

I actually bought myself the Ladybird book of ballet when I was about ten and I used to use the back of my parents' sofa as a ballet bar because I desperately wanted to dance but never really had the opportunity largely because I thought the door was already closed. And it wasn't until I went to university when I was 18 to go and study Visual Arts and Drama that I started dancing. I realised that contemporary dance is a form that you can enter much later in life than something like ballet and, from that point on, I've never looked back.

What sets Motionhouse apart from its competitors?

Obviously, I'm extremely biased but I think Motionhouse is a visionary, brilliant company. I think that the work that we make, in its accessibility and its extraordinary physicality, plus the really visual magic that we create on stage and in performance really makes us stand out from the crowd and I think that's why people really love our work.

As your focus in on the business side of Motionhouse, do you ever wish you were up there performing?

Well I was a performer for many years. When I started the company, I was a dancer and I carried on performing for the first eleven years of Motionhouse. I moved out of performing when I was in my early thirties, I became a mum and, also at that point, the company needed somebody to lead it strategically, so I kind of shifted from one role to a very different one.

I still have a lot of interaction with the performers and the creative process. I tend to go in and be the outside eye when we're making new shows. So I do still feel involved and, to be honest, I look at the dancers and think there's no way I could still be doing that, so I'm quite happy with my role.

What does the future of Motionhouse look like?

Very exciting, I hope! Obviously, we've got great plans, we've got great vision, we're very passionate about the company and we have huge demand and massive, wonderful response to our work so I anticipate an evermore-wonderful future!

Have you got what it takes to be a director? Have a look at the job profile on Creative Choices, a website filled with careers advice for people entering the arts.


Kheira Bey

Kheira Bey Contributor

A very busy bee in the arts world. Kheira is an actress, living and working in London and loves anything fresh in the world of theatre, film and art. She works across theatre and film, and is trying to get better at watering her plant collection. She has previously contributed to: Voice Magazine, The Everyday, The Sun and Good Morning Britain; and is passionate about championing female narratives and new work. Arts Award Activist 2016/17 and Vaults Festival fanatic.

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  • Sienna James

    On 25 March 2017, 09:12 Sienna James Voice Team commented:

    Ahhh I love the video interview Kheria!!

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