Protein is one of the most distinctive voices in British dance theatre, Artistic Director and founder Luca Silvestrini has been using a blend of original choreography, text, humour and music to entertain and provoke audiences since 1998.

Protein’s shows connect theatrical experiences with the everyday and real-life stories that engage audiences and participants in both on-and-off stage productions.

We believe in bringing the audience closer, inviting them to connect with what’s happening on stage, whether through subject matter, location, or the way performers directly address the audience bridging the divide between watching and participating. Our shows are devised by Luca with professional performers/artists or with a mix of professionals and participants. The success and impact of Protein’s performance and participation programme has grown nationally and internationally over the last twenty-one years and in 2016, Protein was again nominated (having won the accolade in 2011) for the best Independent Company at the National Dance Awards.

2019-20 is Protein’s 21st anniversary and to mark the occasion, we are celebrating those who have made the 21 years possible and inviting dance organisations from across the UK to be inspired by Protein’s past work by creating a contemporary response. Find out more about Protein 21.


"Bouncy, extremely clever and constantly entertaining"
The Times
"Luca Silvestrini is the sharpest of comic choreographers"
The Guardian
"Bulging with sharp, witty details and scenes"
The Times


Protein was founded in 1997 by Italian Luca Silvestrini and Swiss Bettina Strickler, who attended the Laban Centre (now Trinity Laban) together.

Beginning with their bilingual duet Duel in 1998, they created a series of high energy, accessible professional stage works, each one relishing a different aspect of contemporary life: confessional television (Portrait with Group and Duck, 1998), psychoanalysis (On the Couch, 2000), booze culture (Publife, 2002) and social Darwinism (The Banquet, 2003).

Continuing as sole Artistic Director after Bettina’s departure from the company in 2004, Luca tackled consumerism (Big Sale, 2005) and obsession with body image (B for Body, 2006), which won him the Audience Vote in The Place Prize, 2006, and led to the full-length Dear Body in 2008.

Protein has toured throughout the United Kingdom and internationally, with performances in Italy, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, France, Germany, Croatia, Malta, Czech Republic, Holland, Canada, China, Palestine and the USA.

LOL (lots of love), 2010, inspired by the culture of online relationships, was part of the British Council Showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and subsequently toured to the Middle East, Croatia, Russia, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Colombia, Thailand and India. It was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Dance at the UK Theatre Awards 2011, and Best Modern Choreography and Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) at the National Dance Awards 2011, when Protein was awarded Best Independent Company.

Border Tales, 2013, explored the experiences of migrants and multicultural living in the UK. Featuring a live score and performed in-the-round, the show was performed for the longest run The Place has ever presented – three weeks – and two of those weeks sold out. In 2016, the show appeared on BBC Worldwide as part of an ‘Identity Day’, broadcast to millions around the world. In 2017, the new front-end version of the show went on to Edinburgh Fringe for three sold out weeks, leading to further international touring to Italy, Switzerland, Palestine, Romania and South Korea in 2018-19.

May Contain Food, 2015, examined our complex relationship with food. A collaboration with composer Orlando Gough, the audience sits at tables while being waited on by the performers, bringing the show ever closer to those watching and even including them in it. In 2016, the show was selected and adapted to be a part of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative, a pioneering project designed to stimulate the making of dance for rural areas. May Contain Food May Contain You, the ‘rural version’ has toured extensively since 2016. In 2018, Protein and Marche Teatro, Ancona, Italy produced FOOD, the Italian version of the show which toured Italy through 2019.

Protein’s The Little Prince, based on the world-famous philosophical novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, premiered at DanceEast in Ipswich in 2018 before embarking on an extensive international tour in 2019 which included two sold-out shows at the International Dance Center Theater in Shanghai and a Christmas run at The Place, London. In 2020, the show was specially adapted for smaller venues as part of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative and toured to 12 venues in England and Wales.

As well as creating stage works, Luca has also made several outdoor, site-sensitive works. Windows in Progress, 2014, staged in shop windows in Covent Garden and at the Royal Opera House was commissioned by the Royal Opera House for Deloitte Ignite 2014 and has been seen by over 7,000 over 19 performances. (In)visible Dancing, 2010, is an emergent, participatory performance combining the idea of a ‘flashmob’ with a show that is performed and developed over a period of one or two weeks, and has been presented to major festivals in the UK, Ireland, Italy and been seen by over 159,000 people. (In)visible Dancing is performed every summer in a new location and in 2019 had its 15th edition in front of over 19,000 people in Woolwich, Protein’s home in South-East London.


Hans de Kretser

Hans de Kretser Associates

Lew Hodges

Charity Trustee

Hakeem Onibudo


Carolyn Naish

Retired, formerly Lauderdale House

Simon Pitts (Chair)

BBC World Service

Fiona Ross

Greater London Authority

Diana Walton

Upstart Projects & Arts Award

Lorraine Cox

Thames Estuary Production Corridor partnership

Sagar Shah

Southbank Centre


Sally Marie

Eryck Brahmania

Andrew Gardiner

Sonya Cullingford

PJ Hurst

Jonathan Mewett

Michael Henry

Omar Gordon

Emily Thompson-Smith

Simone Donati

Thomas Goodwin

Jon Beney

Fania Grigoriou

Miranda Mac Letten

Stuart Waters

Andy Pink

Anthar Kharana

Chris Knight

Fernanda Prata

Valentina Golfieri

Salah El Brogy

Matthew Winston

Neus Gil Cortes

Maria Fonseca

Kip Johnson

Femi Oyewole

Stephanie Dufresne

Rachele Rapisardi

Jack Sergison

Daniel Denton

Stephen Moynihan

Frank Moon

Elisabetta d’Aloia

Charlotte Broom

Orlando Gough

Donna Lennard

Faith Prendergast

Louise Sofield

Nathan Bartman

Virginia Scudeletti

Kenny Wing Tao Ho

Clemmie Sveaas

Martin George

Patsy Browne-Hope

Karl Fagerlund Brekke

Yann Seabra

Temitope Ajose-Cutting

Carl Harrison

Saara Hurme

Yuyu Rau

Awards and Accolades


Greenwich Dance

Partner company, 2018-current


People Dancing

Associate company, 2017-current

Lustrum Award for the Greatest Festival Moments

Summerhall Arts Award Festival, 2017

Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, 2017



ARC Stockton Arts Centre

Partner company, 2016-current

National Dance Awards, 2016

Best independent Dance Company (nomination)


San Francisco Dance Film Festival, 2013

LOL (lots of love), filmed by HiBrow, shortlisted in Live Performance Relay category

Modul-dance Artist

Luca Silvestrini 2013-14


Greenwich Dance

Resident Dance Company 2012-18

British Council

New Connections Award, 2012


National Dance Awards, 2011

Best Independent Dance Company
Best Modern Choreography - LOL (lots of love) (nomination)
Outstanding Female Performer - Sally Marie (nomination)

Theatre Awards UK, 2011

Outstanding Achievement in Dance - LOL (lots of love) (nomination)

Premis Ciutat de Barcelona, 2011

Special Commendation, Cruilles


The Place

Work Place Artist, 2010-current


DanceXchange, Birmingham

Associate Artist (Luca Silvestrini) 2009-14


Swindon Dance

Associate Company 2008-09


Rayne Fellowship 2006

Luca Silvestrini


The Place, London

Choreographers in Residence 2001-04 Luca Silvestrini and Bettina Strickler


Rencontres Choreographiques Internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis

2000 British Dance Edition UK shortlist Portrait Group and Duck

Internetional competition for Choreographers 2000, Groningen, Holland

2nd Prize Duel

Bonnie Bird Choreography Award 2000

On The Couch

Jerwood Choreography Award 2000



For press inquiries and image requests email Elin Morgan at elin@mobiusindustries.com

Support Us

Protein challenges what dance can be and most importantly, what it can do to others. Help us continue to make work for and with people of all ages and backgrounds.

Thank you to all the individuals, public funding bodies, trusts, foundations, and companies who support Protein.

Ongoing major support from
Arts Council England
Royal Borough of Greenwich


No current vacancies.

Bathway Theatre Network

We are based in Woolwich, Royal Borough of Greenwich, London, at the University of Greenwich and are part of the Bathway Theatre Network. This is also the home of the Drama, BA Hons programme for the university and has a thriving creative community onsite.


Photo Credits

Roswitha Chesher, Marco Cifre Quatresols, Joel Cottrell, Matthias Ek, Florence Fox, Elliott Franks, Jane Hobson, Dan Martin, Neil Michael, Nicholas Minns, Stephen Morgan, Chris Nash, Johan Persson, Davey Poremba, Nuno Santos, Alice Underwood, Ali Wright, Maike Zimmermann.