DDF News — 2 Apr 2019

Memories of Festivals Past with Catherine Nunes

Memories of Festivals Past with Catherine Nunes

Catherine Nunes, Founding Director of DDF, reminisces on the inaugural Festival Edition opening performance and a goosebump moment with one of the stars of this year's Festival.

As we approach the 15th Edition of the Dublin Dance Festival – an exciting milestone worth celebrating – we felt it a fitting moment to look back at Festivals gone by with some favourite moments from DDF Directors, past and present.

This week, we caught up with Founding Director, Catherine Nunes, who had this to share with us…

Of the many wonderful memories of those heady early years of the festival, the three that spring immediately to mind are:

The legendary Merce Cunningham – now sadly gone from us – taking his elegant bow on the Abbey Stage in 2002, a truly historic and moving occasion. Merce’s entire visit was hugely momentous, from the full houses and the ecstatic standing ovations, to the Joycean tour of Dublin and a most touching private moment when Merce and the great playwright Tom Murphy met over dinner and found they shared common language after all.

Rosemary Butcher presenting her brilliant but uncompromisingly abstract work SCAN at the Green on Red Gallery. The audience was startled, bemused and in some cases angered by the challenge of the work – at the end of it all there was a very heated, quite volatile discussion with people walking out. This was – we all felt at that moment – what the festival should be about: radical, challenging and brave.

In 2004, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker winked at me during her performance of her wonderful solo work ONCE at the Samuel Beckett Theatre. I had brought our 10-day old baby daughter with me and was thoughtfully – if unwisely, in retrospect – put to sit in the very front of the audience. The snuffles and coos of the new born were audible to all and I sat rigidly until De Keersmaeker, dancing close to us downstage, subtly signalled me that all was well.

These and so many more memories – the extraordinary Michael Clarke and Ballet Freiburg at the SFX theatre; the manic genius of Nigel Charnock; Akram Khan’s beautifully kinetic dancing; the intelligence of Jérôme Bel (whose brave work we staunchly defended in the Four Courts); the majestic Rosas company; the inimitable Jonathan Burrows; and of course, the many memorable moments from a burgeoning community of Irish dance artists.

Catherine Nunes, DDF Founding Director (2002-2006)