Me And My Home: Private dancer

Dominic Lutyens talks to choreographer Matthew Bourne
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The Independent Online

Choreographer and director Matthew Bourne lives in a three-storey house in Islington, north London, with his partner, Arthur

I fell in love with Islington when I was growing up in Walthamstow. I'd often take the number 38 bus and, whenever I passed through the area, I promised myself I'd live here one day. I was also born near here, on Clapton High Street. There were two reasons why I bought the house: I loved the unusual kitchen downstairs and the huge garden. In my previous home, there wasn't even a balcony, and when I moved, I looked for somewhere with outdoor space. My garden now has 14 types of trees, including a eucalyptus, damson and silver birch. Looking on to it makes you feel as if you're in the country.

"The inside of the house has the same countrified feel, particularly the kitchen. I like a home that doesn't make you feel inhibited about flopping down and relaxing. The kitchen feels especially cosy, with its Chesterfield sofas, squashy cushions and Aga. I'm not that into cooking, but it's great for roasting vegetables or heating bread. I like the odd mix here of things from different periods - the brick fireplace, the ceiling with its exposed rafters and wiring. A surveyor would tell you it shouldn't be exposed like this - even though it's painted with fireproof paint. I once had a party and it really bounced with all the dancing upstairs.

"The room's full of oddities: plastic farmyard animals on a shelf, one of my slippers which my dog chewed and which I've framed and hung on the wall and Staffordshire china figures of W G Grace and Napoleon. I've got four Olivier Awards I've received here. It's hard to know where to put them without them looking ostentatious. They sit beside my Tony Awards, although these aren't so nice - they look like darts trophies.

"There are mementoes everywhere referring to my life, from my childhood onwards. As a teenager, I was obsessed with collecting signed movie stars' photos. I've since hung them in my office at home. When I was a boy, I got wise to the fact that, in those days, Who's Who published addresses of Hollywood stars, which I'd copy down in the public library. I've got signed photos of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Rock Hudson, Mae West and Esther Williams. I've since met Esther Williams, who I've taken out for tea. She's very witty, and has a very dirty sense of humour. There are also framed snapshots taken at parties Roddy McDowell threw for me in LA, when I put on Swan Lake there. There's one of myself, my partner, Arthur, Helen Mirren and Stefanie Powers.

"I'm a real hoarder. My office is stuffed with books and videos. But I'm about to move to somewhere smaller because it's nearer the centre of Islington, so I'm getting rid of lots of stuff. There's no Tube near where I live now, so there's a huge disincentive to go out once I've got home. Once I've moved, it will be easy to pop out for dinner or to see a film. My office has lots of Disney paraphernalia, which I've always loved, though less now. I'm currently doing work for a Disney and Cameron Mackintosh co-production of Mary Poppins, and learning about the nuts and bolts of animation has diluted its magic for me. I do love childhood things, though. I've got a big collection of dolls and toys, old and new: ones of Snow White, 1930s sailors, boyband Take That, the Wicked Witch of the West, Woody in Toy Story and Pee Wee Herman - I'm a great friend of his creator, Paul Reubens.

"A lot of my objects, art and photos relate to my work. In the living room, there's a Duncan Grant painting I bought because I played him in my piece, Percys of Fitzrovia, about the Bloomsbury Group, and a pair of art deco ceramic sailors, which allude to my French piece, Infernal Galop. I've also got sheet music for the Dying Swan part of Swan Lake, given to me by the actor Alan Cumming. In my bedroom, there's a 1940s figure of a boy originally used to advertise Y-fronts. It inspired my piece, Spitfire, performed by boys in white underwear. The name refers to the fact that Y-fronts were first advertised with the gung-ho slogan, 'Like a Spitfire - built for a man!'

"When I bought the house, I had tongue-and-groove panelling put up round my bedroom with a shelf running round it at about head height. It's a Swedish idea I saw in an interiors book. There's a ventriloquist's dummy on the shelf which I used in rehearsals for my piece, Nutcracker!, a reinterpretation of the Nutcracker Suite, in which the dummy takes the place of the original soldier that cracks nuts between his teeth. I find the dummy creepy, so why I sleep with it staring at me, I couldn't say. I've also got a bookshelf with first editions of J M Barrie books, and amusingly quaint books like Teach Yourself Amateur Acting. I mean, who'd want to learn that? Another passion is movie and stage posters - mainly of musicals and Hitchcock films. I've got a great poster of The Servant in the hallway. With its image of an embracing couple reflected in a hallway's convex mirror, this is the perfect place for it. I prefer posters with a painted element, which you don't get now, rather than photographic ones. Among them are several for my own productions, including some witty ones by poster designer Dewynters - there's one for a Cinderella production in LA in which LA is highlighted by the spelling, 'CINDEREL LA'. My home is like a scrapbook of my life. I like the fact it's very personal."

Matthew Bourne's house is for sale at £665,000 via Hotblack Desiato (020-7226 0160). His production of 'Nutcracker!' opens at Sadler's Wells on 2 December, and his 'Play Without Words' production opens at the National Theatre on 10 December