DDF News — 9 Mar 2021

Get to know your favourite artists with DDF's #ArtistAnswers series

Get to know your favourite artists with DDF's #ArtistAnswers series

We know how much you love getting a little behind-the-scenes glimpse or getting to know artists a bit better. So, we chatted to some of your favourite Irish dance artists to find out how they approach performances, which pieces have had the biggest impact on them and what they've been up to during lockdown.

Here's what they had to say...

MARIA NILSSON WALLER

Maria Nilsson Waller - Outdoor Working © Stace Gill
Maria Nilsson Waller - Outdoor Working © Stace Gill
Stace Gill and Maria Nilsson Waller in LUMEN, 2019 © Stace Gill
Stace Gill and Maria Nilsson Waller in LUMEN, 2019 © Stace Gill
Maria Nilsson Waller on stage at Tipperary Dance Platform © Stace Gill
Maria Nilsson Waller on stage at Tipperary Dance Platform © Stace Gill

What have you done that's kept you feeling motivated and happy during lockdown?
A good stretch and plenty of time outdoors in nature. I am lucky to live just around the corner to beautiful nature so the lake and forest has pretty much became my studio/workspace this year.

What do you do in the last 5 minutes before you go on stage to prepare?
I try to just relax and stay calm, get rid of any nerves and stress so I can be focused, open and presence once I go on stage. The work has to be already done at this point - its too late to try to fix anything, so I just try relax and give what I have.

Who would you most like to collaborate with next? 
At the moment I am collaborating with video artist and composer Stace Gill/The Sei on everything, and I suspect this will keep going for a long time! She has a sharp and poetic mind and an incredible ability to catch light ( on camera) in a both playful and stunningly beautiful way. Her eye sees small details where I see big landscapes. We have an unusual synergy, and it feels like we have only scratched the surface of what could be done together in terms of building worlds, make music, videos, move and explore.

TOBI OMOTESO

Tobi Omoteso © Damien McCarthy
Tobi Omoteso © Damien McCarthy

What has been your favourite lockdown indulgence?
Spending time with myself, my family & Training time with my daughter.

What would audiences be most surprised to learn about you?
I am an Engineer, working in the area of Software, Network & Automation Engineering and I enjoy it as much as being on stage.

What do you do in the last 5 minutes before a performance to prepare?
I always have to clear my bowels, like always. I think it has something to do with the nerves

CATHERINE YOUNG

Image from Floating on a Dead Sea by Catherine Young © Luca Truffarelli
Image from Floating on a Dead Sea by Catherine Young © Luca Truffarelli

What activity have you enjoyed while our movement has been restricted?
Sea swimming. I took up sea swimming during the lockdown in the Atlantic. I try to go most days no matter what the weather is like (and without a wet suit). It never gets any easier, the water just gets colder but I try to not give myself an out and focus on how I'll feel afterwards. The sheer cold shocks the system and resets it, especially the mind. It's a daily lesson in pushing through. You feel amazing after it, invincible! like anything is possible and you’re just so grateful to get warm again, that it puts everything else in perspective. There's alway a real lift after doing it. I also practice yoga.

What piece of work you've created has been the most meaningful for you?
State of Exception - I had an amazing cast and crew on that journey. It was a difficult subject matter to tackle but the process was really special (in Shawbrook) and I feel we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to do justice to the stories of the asylum seekers who worked with us on the show and to bring more awareness to the lives of those in Direct Provision.

What would audiences be most surprised to learn about you?
Hmm, maybe that I was a lifeguard when I was younger in College?

MUFUTAU YUSUF

Mufutau Yusuf
Mufutau Yusuf

What has been one positive thing that this last year has brought you as a result of lockdown?
My biggest lockdown indulgence has been being able to actually just stop everything, momentarily pull the handbrake on life and take time to reflect, recharge and rewire physically, mentally and emotionally.

What piece of work has been the most enjoyable or memorable for you?
That’s a hard one as each work I’ve performed have all been so different and incomparable. That’s what I believe I enjoy most, the fact that each work is different.

What do you do in the last 5 minutes before you go on stage to prepare?
I sometimes pretend the show has already started backstage and everything leading up to going on stage is part of the show. This allows me to maintain some level of focus.

RITA MARCALO

My Community © Rita Marcalo
My Community © Rita Marcalo
Home Studio © Rita Marcalo
Home Studio © Rita Marcalo
PhD Dissertation © Rita Marcalo
PhD Dissertation © Rita Marcalo

What has been your favourite lockdown indulgence?
My family agreeing to get rid of all furniture in our box room for me to create a home studio.

Which artist would you most like to collaborate with?
I believe that art is less of a skill you train in, and more of a way of seeing the world. I am fascinated by the artist lurking inside all of us, independently of whether trained artists or not. I would most like to collaborate with my local community of Cloughjordan. Here are some shots I took of some of them this morning... 

What would audiences be most surprised to learn about you?
Maybe that when I was 11 my answer to 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' was astronaut and dancer. Eventually I found out that I had to choose, so I chose a career path in dance, but I never left my interest in cosmology, physics, and the nature of reality behind. I continued to read and study it, and in 2006 I finally brought the art of dance and the science of quantum physics together in a PhD.

LUCIA KICKHAM

Window Blinds © Lucia Kickham
Window Blinds © Lucia Kickham
Lockdown Baking © Lucia Kickham
Lockdown Baking © Lucia Kickham
Where Calm Once Lived © Lucia Kickham
Where Calm Once Lived © Lucia Kickham

What little indulgences has lockdown enabled you to enjoy?
I’ve had different indulgences during each lockdown I think. The one that stands out or reoccurs most has definitely been baking. Particularly in the initial stages of being at home so much more than I usually had been. It felt good to produce something tangible and with muffins, cookies and energy bars… there is the added advantage of getting to eat the results. Finding recipes and experimenting with them, trying to perfect a gluten free scone, making cakes and decorating them in a fancy way I saw online - hours of delicious entertainment! Going into subsequent periods of lockdown I wanted to move more and felt the need for both physical care and challenge. It was time to tend to my body. I started doing some weights and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, I never really expected to. Feeling the inherent need for alignment and being able to analyse the effort involved in a technical way and also to feel some development and strength has been really satisfying.

What do you do in the last 5 minutes before you go on stage to prepare?
Before a performance you’ll often find me lying on the couch in the green room with my eyes closed, earphones in listening to Ludovico Einaudi. I’ve been doing this during lockdown as well actually as he has a new album called 12 Songs From Home. I find it helps me to relax after a tech session and centre myself for the performance ahead or the day ahead as the case may be now. It’s a bit like a meditation. In the last few minutes before going on stage I shake. A full body shake that gathers the energy I need and dispels any nervous tension. I wrote and recorded a piece on this shaking practice, Where Calm Once lived, for the Still/Moving blog from Liz Roche Company in 2020.

Which piece have you most enjoyed working on or performing?
I think my favourite or most enjoyable piece that I’ve performed has to be Tardigrade by Philip Connaughton. I’ve always wanted it to have another run or a tour but unfortunately it hasn’t, yet. We performed it in The Samuel Beckett Theatre in Trinity as part of the 2014 Dublin Fringe Festival. It was described as a sensory overload - lots of layers of colour and sounds and movement colliding and it was just so much fun to be part of that creation and to perform with a big cast of gorgeous and hilarious people. We had a five-night run which for a contemporary dance show in Dublin is pretty good going. I really love having a longer run of a show, being able to get into the rhythm of getting into the theatre each day and building a daily ritual pre and post show. I did also meet my future husband during that festival time and invited him to see the show (which he did!) so it’s understandable, I suppose, that it holds a special place for me.

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Stay tuned for more chances to get to know more about the artists and performances that you love!