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DDF2012 opens with elegiac elegance

Sat 12 May 2012

At 7pm last night, the rain-washed courtyard outside the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Trinity was filled with expectant audience members, huddled in their autumn finery though we’re well into May. Liz Roche Company opened DDF on an eerie and unsettling note with the sold-out Body and Forgetting, an inquisition into the endlessly convoluted processes of remembering, forgetting and renewal and appropriately toned for the sodden summer we’re having. A film projection of a desolate corridor (calling to mind an asylum) loomed behind the four dancers, an extension to the stage housing recorded ghosts of the live performers. Body and Forgetting is full of fragments, physical objects and tropes of movement that are both echoes of memory and touchstones of comfort. Whilst the recorded performers dance in the ghostly corridor, the ones on stage struggle to catch up with their past selves. Dense with signals and steeped in atmosphere thanks to geometric lighting by Sinead Wallace and a mournful, almost western, score by Denis Roche, Body and Forgetting is an exquisite elegy to the broken, stuttering and insistent memories that form the backdrop to our lives. This elegiac tone continued with the second, shorter piece of the evening, Sarah Dowling’s The Wake. A sparse stage-set (plain wooden chair, scrubbed wooden table, metal bowl) was the scene for an elegant duet by two Royal Ballet soloists. The melancholy lines of the dance were reinforced by live musical accompaniment from two traditional Irish musicians, framing this sure-footed and pared-down portrayal of grief comingled with joyful remembering in the aftermath of a death. A sombre and understated beginning to this year’s programme, but one that was rich with meaning and exemplary of a particular brand of Irish choreography that is beautiful in its direct simplicity. There is important dance here – if you can get a hold of one of the remaining tickets for tonight's performance, it's not to be missed!