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Wednesday, 5th June 2013

Missing in Dublin

Gerard Lemos, a good friend of our Director Julia Carruthers, came over to Dublin for DDF 2013. He spent the final weekend of Dublin Dance Festival seeing performances and taking in the sights – including The Little Museum of Dublin, where we held our launch way back in March. Here’s his response to what he encountered in Dublin…

David Bolger and CoisCéim created a new dance work for the Dublin Dance Festival about missing people. More than 7000 people go missing in Ireland every year, the population of a small town. Many are found or return, but some do not. Their eventual fate can be running away to the anonymous city, an itinerant, homeless life, forced labour and in effect imprisonment or suicide. The piece was for two dancers, with strong personalities, a disarming text and a surprisingly flowing movement considering the theme.  In the debate facilitated by a remarkable, articulate and precise academic, Pauline Conroy, it emerged that, among missing people, some were more missed than others.

Life in Movement is a film made about the short, bright life of Tanja Liedtke who died when hit by a truck in Sydney 2007. She had a brilliant career in physical theatre working with DV8 among others and, at the age of 29, had been appointed as artistic director of Sydney Dance Company, the first appointment to that post for 30 years. The film showed to those, like me, who knew little of her work what an amazing physical and dramatic performer she was and also what an intense, dramatic conviction she brought to her choreography in pieces like 12th Floor and Construct.  Her sudden death was shocking, random and meaningless. She was much missed, but not missing.

At the wonderful Little Museum on St Stephen’s Green, a museum of ordinary people’s memories and memorabilia, visitors are encouraged to tell each other about their own memories. One woman who had grown up in Dublin but had lived for many decades in North Yorkshire said that her great aunt had been killed in the crossfire during the uprising of Easter 1916, when the republicans were staked out in dugouts in St Stephen’s Green and shot at by British soldiers from the upper floors of the Shelbourne Hotel across the street.  Her great aunt had been killed by a bullet coming through the window.  She was 16 years old. Before she was buried the family had cut off her long hair and preserved it in a wooden box. The children were frightened by the long hair stretched out in the box and one day, unbeknownst to their mother, their father had put it on the fire.  But it had not been forgotten that sunny Saturday afternoon.

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