Friday, 25th May 2012

DDF 2012 draws to a close

As well as a diverse programme of international and home-grown contemporary dance, this year’s festival has given Irish audiences a chance to witness other dance forms, perhaps hitherto unfamiliar. A study in the traditional Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam, Divya Kasturi’s NowHere took to the Peacock stage in the Abbey last night for a movingly sincere performance, whilst Aakash Odedra’s Rising in the Project Arts Centre on Tuesday had already given DDF audiences a taste of Kathak (another Indian dance form).

In her performance last night, Kasturi provided an insight into two distinct facets of contemporary South Asian dance. Darshan is a sumptuous display of Indian theatrical narratives in full traditional regalia, telling the tales contained in five poetic passages through dance and sinuous mime given texture by by the dancer’s red-daubed soles and fingertips.

NowHere, on the other hand, is more contemporary and understated in tone, exploring the theme of an identity forged between two locations (in this case, the UK and India) with audio-visual elements. Kasturi puts memory at the centre of this exploration, bringing the past and the present together through the use of film that shows fragments from the dancer’s professional life, interspersed with scenes from the UK and India.

Despite the marked difference in tone, the pieces are bound together by their respectful treatment of the Bharatanatyam tradition of movement, forming an interesting contrast that highlights the tension inherent in keeping hold of tradition as its relevance in a contemporary setting becomes less and less certain. As Kasturi told Seona Mac Réamoinn in a recent article “We have to find more secular language for a dance that has up to now been expressed only through the spiritual dimension, bringing it with us into a contemporary world, not losing that dimension but aware of the changed order.”

NowHere can be seen in the Peacock theatre again tonight, whilst The Blue Boy’s Brokentalkers opens at Project Arts Centre this evening, with a second and third showing tomorrow afternoon and night concluding the festival. Last chance to see something from what has been this year, for this blogger at any rate, a wonderful whirlwind of dance.

Author: Rachel Donnelly | Add your Comment »

Wednesday, 23rd May 2012

Odedra’s ‘Rising’ opens in Project Arts, while small plastic cows delight on the Peacock stage

Aakash Odedra’s hugely-anticipated Rising, a collection of four pieces created by the performer in collaboration with three other choreographers (Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui), opened in the Space Upstairs in Project Arts last night. Harnessing the talents of an accomplished dancer, this performance was a showcase of traditional Kathak movements moulded into contemporary forms through the use of striking lighting.

Odedra opened with his own piece, Nritta, which was an opportunity to show the audience Kathak dancing in its pure form, highlighting the essential elements of the style. Odedra is fluid, sure-footed and strong as a performer, his feet pummelling the floor with startlingly fierce rapidity whilst his arms form precision planes against the plumb line of his body.

The three pieces that followed take their cue from this opening, working with Odedra’s own vocabulary of movement to see how it can be cut and pasted into other forms. All three pieces use lighting to sculpt the performance, whether its Maliphant’s CUT, which seeks to slice out components of Odedra’s movement with carefully placed shafts of light, Larbi’s Constellation, which sees the performer breath-takingly dodging through a galaxy of swinging lightbulbs, or Khan’s In the Shadow of Man, which casts Odedra as animalistic with its stark shadows.

This is an exciting opportunity to see a versatile performer extending his considerable abilities into other realms – get tickets for tonight’s performance here!

From the fusion of traditional and contemporary forms to the outright explosion of form, Cheap Lecture and The Cow Piece followed hard on the heels of Rising on the Peacock stage of the Abbey that same evening. Dancer Jonathan Burrows and composer Matteo Fargion have been performing these two outlandish pieces since 2009 and their delivery of this time-sensitive work is impressively spot on.

Cheap Lecture is a hodge-podge of sidelong references to other works that also manages to be a deft meditation on the nature of the relationship between performer and audience, the communication of meaning in performance, the internal structure and purpose of rhythm and repetition, and how all of these things hang together. If that all sounds complex, it’s because it is. But these two accomplished performers present these ideas fluently and eloquently, buoyed up by humour and a cantering piano score, packaging them in easy-to-swallow linguistic nuggets for the audience.

The Cow Piece, in contrast, is much more difficult to pin down under a theme. It involves, mainly, playacting with toy plastic cows and a couple of small instruments. Burrows and Fargion engage in carefully choreographed and measured (but completely insane) sequences of miming, singing, tapping, humming and squealing while moving the cows around a table top. This raised wave upon wave of belly laughter from the audience like nothing else I’ve seen in the Dance Festival so far. Unfortunately this show has finished its run for DDF 2012, but it stands as a testament to the diversity of this year’s programme – if ever you have the chance, go see it!

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Monday, 21st May 2012

(In)Visible Dancing unleashed on Grafton Street – the pics!

Our photographer Sam Abraham took some fab snaps at the finale of Luca Silvestini’s (In)Visible Dancing yesterday. About 700 people gathered at the top of Grafton Street to enjoy DDF’s biggest outdoor spectacle yet!

Nothing odd here…

Jog, jog, jogging along

It’s been a long week… time for a little lie down

Hello Thomas!

Jane Shortall’s crew giving it loads

Marcin and Ksenia from Viva Dance School — just like Strictly!

The gang from Protein

Huge thanks again to Fr. Charlie and Gerry from the Carmelite Community Centre, Aungier Street and to all of the groups who took part yesterday:

Jane Shortall Dance

Natalia and The Harmonious Moment-um Tai Chi classes

Marcin and Ksenia and Viva School of Dance

Nathalie and Peña Flamenca el Indalo

Leeann Timony and her African Dance group

Katie Hudson and Three-O Troupe

AND last but not least to the fab musicians who kept everyone boogying:

Drums: Shane Atlas
Trumpet: Eoin Grace
Trombone / Tuba: Jamie Fay
Violin / Guitar: Camille Champarnaud

Author: ellie | Add your Comment »

Monday, 21st May 2012

Sunday: Grafton Street held hostage by guerrilla dancers

There was huge anticipation in the air at the top of Grafton Street yesterday afternoon as shoppers and spectators milled around, waiting. No one quite knew in which direction to look, but the snippets of guerrilla dancing that had popped up in the area during all of last week had piqued Dublin’s interest.

At 4pm, there was a commotion outside Dunnes Stores as some members of the crowd began behaving peculiarly. Lycra-clad joggers, business people clutching mobiles and lattes, and a pair of tracksuited young women with a buggy started moving in a manner less than pedestrian as a group of musicians, including a trumpet player, guitarist, drummer and violinist, struck up a staccato rendition of ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’.

Spectators fanned out to form a makeshift performance space for the impromptu show, but it didn’t stay in one place for long. The dancers migrated through the crowd to spots nearby, forming a zany conga-line/queue outside Butler’s takeaway café, where they were joined by the liquid hip-hop stylings of local group Jane Shortall Dance.

Equipped with a pink umbrella, Thomas Goodwin, one of Protein’s dancers (the company behind (In)visible Dancing), acted as maestro to the proceedings, weaving through the dense throng of people and leaping atop phone boxes to flail signs of welcome at the crowd.

The show peaked with a medley of performances at the top of the street from other local dance groups, including tribal gyrations from African Dance Ireland, defiant flamenco from Pena Flamenca El Indalo, serenity from The Harmonious Moment-um Chen Tai Chi Ireland, and contributions from Three-O go go dancers and Viva School of Dance’s Latin American/Ballroom performers.

The delighted crowd clearly approved of the proceedings, roaring encouragement to Goodwin’s final mischievous gesture – clambering onto the phone boxes one last time to hold up a sign proclaiming ‘The End’.

Author: Rachel Donnelly | Add your Comment »

Sunday, 20th May 2012

Tonight: a chance to see Alan Gilsenan’s work in progress

As a controversial figure in Irish history, Patrick (Pádraig) Pearse presents a slippery focus for a work. Alan Gilsenan, the award-winning director and film-maker behind The Yellow Bittern, has nonetheless taken on the challenge with The Burning House: An Elegy for Patrick Pearse.

The piece presented in The Lir theatre on Pearse’s namesake street last night is a preview of a work in progress, destined for completion in 2016 to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Gilsenan has decided to take a non-political view of Pearse with this piece, seeking to depict the ‘inner life’ of an artist, the turmoil of an individual who, it is argued, viewed his role in the 1916 Rising as gestural, or theatrical, rather than expedient.

Mixing different elements of theatre (dance, spoken word, operatic singing courtesy of John Scott) with references to an array of cultures and traditions (Irish, African, Muslim), Gilsenan aims to place Pearse’s status as a ‘martyr’ figure within a global context of self-sacrifice. Reflecting this objective, the performers hail from a variety of locations (South Africa, Benin, India, Galway and Dublin), with South African dancer Dada Masilo and Irish-born sean-nós performer Seosamh Ó Neachtain performing a duet that sees a melding of traditions from both countries.

It remains to be seen whether it is possible to create an a-political piece in reference to a figure who is inescapably political. Indeed, audience reaction in the post-show discussion last night indicated a certain discomfort with this probing into a national name. However, The Burning House is a deeply atmospheric work, with some beautiful performances by accomplished artists. Showing again tonight in The Lir at 8pm.

Author: Rachel Donnelly | Add your Comment »

Saturday, 19th May 2012

The Falling Song – Rehearsal shots

Eddie Wong, one of our photographers, got to take some snaps during the dress rehearsal of junk ensemble’s latest work The Falling Song. It premiered last night to rapturous applause. These photos might pique your curiosity further…

All images taken by Eddie Wong.

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Friday, 18th May 2012

Trisha Brown Dance Company charms at the Abbey

The Abbey Stage was home to a piece of contemporary dance history last night with a gala performance of works by the iconic American choreographer, Trisha Brown. Ranging from the playful (Spanish Dance) to the groundbreaking (Set and Reset), the stately (Les Yeux et L’âme) to the surreal (For M.G.: The Movie), the evening was a diverse showcase of the oeuvre of an artist whose career spans four decades.

The longer pieces are broken up with playful shorter works set to contemporary music from The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan, adding a measured touch of levity to a heavyweight programme. In particular, Spanish Dance, a charming four minute interlude involving a sort of involuntary conga line, raised delighted laughter from the audience.

There’s a precision, a mathematical quality, to Brown’s choreography, which is immediately recognisable in each piece, marking it out with the understated assurance that is characteristic of her work. The artist’s signature 1983 dance, Set and Reset, scored by renowned composer Laurie Anderson, is notably idiosyncratic in its manipulation of balance, weight and gravity. The performers transfer their energy to one another in domino-effect rhythm, filtering across the stage and around each other with airy precision and grace.

This is extremely polished, accomplished and assured dance which inhabits the broad grandeur of the Abbey Stage with aplomb. It’s also a rare opportunity for Irish audiences to view work that is considered genre-defining. Tickets still available for tonight and Saturday – go see!

Author: Rachel Donnelly | Add your Comment »

Wednesday, 16th May 2012

If you go down to Grafton Street…

You might see some of these characters while you wander down Grafton Street at lunch time and tea time over the next few days… Keep an eye out for unusual behaviour and more vigorous dancing that is normal among passers-by…

(In)Visible Dancing1_credit_Laura Speedwing
Just having a stretch, you know yourself…

(In)Visible Dancing2_Credit_Laura Speedwing

Anyone seen where my toddler nipped off to??

(In)Visible Dancing3_Credit_Laura Speedwing
We’re just waiting for coffee…

(In)Visible Dancing4_Credit_Laura Speedwing
Is anyone else feeling a bit dizzy??

Catch more (In)Visible Dancing today, tomorrow and Friday. Grand Finale is on Sunday May 20 at 4pm. Bring your kids, your granny and the dog!

All photos above taken by Laura Speedwing, DDF volunteer.

Author: ellie | Add your Comment »

Tuesday, 15th May 2012

Jaws dropping every which way: Yuval Pick’s ‘Score’ opens in Space Upstairs

How do you capture the pulse of a country? French choreographer Yuval Pick has made a fairly good stab at it with Score, a staggering piece soundtracked by snippets of audio recordings taken in Israel, the country of his birth. There was a sense of the (50% French, it seemed) audience being pinned en masse to the edge of their seats in the Space Upstairs at Project Arts Centre last night as the three astonishing dancers on stage surged through the performance.

The recordings capture different facets of life in Israel, by turns modern, traditional, military, religious, commercial, bucolic and urban, and the movement changes to reflect these shifting audio backdrops. Composer Bertrand Larrieu has worked the soundbites into a score that surges and recedes with the lub-dub of the heartbeat of a country that Pick describes as one of “‘high-tension’ energy with strong emotions shaped by survival and emergencies and raw, unmitigated feelings”.

Against these shifts in the style of the movement, the marked ferocity that characterises it remains constant. There is nothing hesitant or half-hearted in the performance – the tightly-wound choreography doesn’t allow for any hint of doubt. The virtuosity and athleticism of these three dancers (Lazare Huet, Anna Massoni and Antoine Roux-Briffaud) is astounding, the opening segment in particular a marvel of complexity as they pulse together in a single hinged, alternately collapsing and expanding unit.

While certain sequences towards the close of the piece tended slightly towards the meandering and overly-repetitive, this is a minor criticism that doesn’t detract from the impact of a performance that received a near-full standing ovation. This is one of the most affecting things I’ve had the pleasure of viewing in dance recently – go see it!

Author: Rachel Donnelly | Add your Comment »

Saturday, 12th May 2012

DDF2012 opens with elegiac elegance

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!

Author: Rachel Donnelly | Add your Comment »