One of the most distinctive voices in British dance theatre, Artistic Director Luca Silvestrini has been using a blend of original choreography, text, music and social commentary to engage and entertain audiences and participants for over two decades.

Protein connects people to the performance through storytelling, locations or the way in which the performers invite them in, breaking down the boundaries between watching and participating. 

Nominated Best Independent Dance Company at the 2016 National Dance Awards and having won the accolade in 2011, Protein’s critically acclaimed wide range of productions and outreach projects are much admired and in demand across the UK and the world.  

Amongst them LOL (lots of love) (2010), Border Tales (2013), May Contain Food (2015), May Contain Food May Contain You (2016) specially created for rural touring, and The Little Prince (2018). Luca has also created popular outdoor shows, including On Display (2008), (In)visible Dancing (2010), Windows in Progress (2014) and the recent promenade experience En Route (2021). 

Protein has recently celebrated its 21st anniversary with a programme of new works created by diverse groups across the UK who reimagined some of the company’s most celebrated productions. Historical pieces were also brought back to the digital stage and a new participatory film, The Sun Inside, was made in collaboration with 152 people from around the world, capturing the importance of sunlight during the first lockdown period.  

Protein is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.


"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 (può contenere tracce di…), the Italian version of the show which toured Italy through 2019.

Protein’s award-winning 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. The Little Prince is winner of Fantastic for Families’ Best Family Event 2020 and nominated for Best Modern Choreography at National Dance Awards. 2021. Protein celebrates it’s return to live theatre with a tour of The Little Prince in the UK and Italy from October to December, 2021.

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 Dancing2010, 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. Protein premiered its outdoor promenade experience, En Route in 2021. A journey of dance, live music and storytelling, it was the company’s first public performance since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and an opportunity to share a collective space and connect as we moved out of isolation.


Michael Johnson

Project Coordinator

Emma Baker-Griffin

Administration and Communications Officer

Luis Dunn

Professional Work Placement


Lew Hodges

Charity Trustee

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

Greater London Authority

Jane Downes

Woolwich Common Community Centre


Maria Fonseca

Jon Beney

Vicki Manderson

Sally Marie

Simone Donati

Jonathan Mewett

Sophie Arstall

Frank Moon

Andy Pink

Fernanda Prata

Valentina Golfieri

Neus Gil Cortes

Anders Duckworth

Emily Thompson-Smith

Tomislav English

Anthar Kharana

Michael Henry

Salah El Brogy

Charlotte Broom

David Lloyd

Kip Johnson

Michael Spenceley

Nathan Bartman

Luis Dunn

Karl Fagerlund Brekke

Saara Hurme

Yuyu Rau

Eryck Brahmania

Luke Murphy

Femi Oyewole

Clemmie Sveaas

Stephen Moynihan

Carl Harrison

Rachele Rapisardi

Martin George

Yann Seabra

Sonya Cullingford

Daniel Denton

Elisabetta d’Aloia

Donna Lennard

Faith Prendergast

Stephanie Dufresne

Nuno Silva

Temitope Ajose-Cutting

Chris Knight

Jack Sergison

Miranda Mac Letten

Folu Odimayo

Orlando Gough

Andrew Gardiner

Simon Palmer

Sarah Storer

Kenny Wing Tao Ho

Thomas Goodwin

Matteo Fargion

Matthew Winston

Fania Grigoriou

PJ Hurst

Stuart Waters

Louise Sofield

Omar Gordon

Valerie Ebuwa

Patsy Ashford

Virginia Scudeletti

Awards and Accolades


Royal Borough of Greenwich Civic Awards, 2022

Arts and Entertainment Award - Luca Silvestrini's Protein


National Dance Awards, 2021

Best Modern Choreography - Luca Silvestrini for The Little Prince (nomination)


Los Angeles Film Awards (LAFA)

Best Musical/Dance Film - The Sun Inside

ANCT Awards 2020, Italy

Premio della Critica - Luca Silvestrini

FIFTH WALL FEST 2020, The Philippines

The Sun Inside (Official Selection)

The Place

Luca Silvestrini - Affiliate Artist, 2020 - current

Fantastic for Families Awards, 2020

Best Family Event - The Little Prince


Greenwich Dance

Partner company, 2018-current


People Dancing

Associate company, 2017-current

Lustrum Award for the Greatest Festival Moments

Summerhall Arts Award Festival - Border Tales

Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, 2017

Border Tales (nomination)


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, 2010-2020


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 Emma Berge at emma@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 opportunities.



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, Foteini Christofilopoulou, Marco Cifre Quatresols, Joel Cottrell, Matthias Ek, Florence Fox, Elliott Franks, Jane Hobson, Urban Jörén, Dan Martin, Neil Michael, Nicholas Minns, Stephen Morgan, Chris Nash, Johan Persson, Davey Poremba, Nuno Santos, Giorgio Sottile, Alice Underwood, Ali Wright, Maya Yoncali, Maike Zimmermann.