Monday, June 10, 2013

Dance Emergency Shoot; Dance Odyssey on Bigger Screen in Bealtaine Festival; Tree Duet in TickKnock's Save our Forests Sun

It has been a busy few months.  We boarded our Tardis, and got the drama/dance recreations of 1940s Dublin for Dance Emergency (the TG4 Splanc documentary), in the can.  Not only that, we got it in there with the legendary Olwen Fouere re-incarnating 1940s Modern Dance pioneer Erina Brady.  Hooray!
Merrion Square 1940s Flash Mob
Just as I had hoped, Olwen was uncannily perfect as Erina Brady.  With the help of choreographer Jessica Kennedy (of, we managed to recreate a very spooky version of Mary Wigman's iconic "Hexentanz", as well as other choreographies Brady would have performed in Dublin.  There are also a few others we imagine she may have created.  The idea was to find a point where all of our aesthetics intersect - Olwen's; Jessica's; and what we imagine Erina Brady's aesthetic may have been.  (Oh yes, and mine too).
Choreographer Jessica Kennedy photographed by Dragana Jurisic

This translated into a barefoot tree flash mob in Merrion Square exactly one month ago today - on that freezing cold, hailstone-y Friday, May 10th (remember?).

Ingrid Nachstern and Olwyn Lyons dance in Merrion Square
We were so blessed to have dedicated dancers Ingrid Nachstern, and Olwyn Lyons; and from the College of Dance in Monkstown (where Joanna Banks is Director), Georgia Begbie, Shauneen Beggan, Caoimhe Ennis, and Orlaith Carr on board for that test of dance vocation.  During the hailstones, they would practice the choreography under the big trees.  The second the sun came out they would dash out on the cold, wet grass, and dance like it was the sunniest, warmest, most wonderful day we ever had! They were truly awesome. 

1940s Flash Mob in Merrion Square
Looking at these photographs you'd imagine it was a perfect summer's day.  Trust me, it was not.  And not only that, these trojans never so much as complained.  It's inspiring to see that level of professionalism and commitment.  Plus the dance looks wonderful too.
Tree Dance in Merrion Square

I was thrilled to work with the mighty Una Kavanagh again too [since our last collaboration, "ShesaWhore" in Project Cube in 2001]. Una played Reverend Mother alongside her TATSOI collaborator Niamh Shaw.  Niamh and Una make a very convincing pair of 1940s Brigidine nuns, I have to say - which is quite chilling when you think about their contribution to "Laundry".  Other College of Dance pupils played the convent girls in Jacqueline Robinson's 1940s modern dance class [taught by dancer Karen Gleeson as Robinson].  The main challenge for these accomplished, well-trained dancers - Sarah Hanley, Aifric McKinley, Jessica Concannon, Karen McNamara, Hannah Greene, Megan McEvoy, Aoife Ledwith, and the aforementioned - was not to look as good at dancing as they actually are.
Una Kavanagh and Niamh Shaw

In our Bohemian Tardis back to forgotten 1940s Dublin, dancer Lucia Kickham portrayed Ireland's first home-grown modern dancer, June Fryer.
Lucia Kickham and Karen Gleeson photographed by Dragana Jurisic

Lucia and Karen performed a gorgeous duet in our make-believe recreation of a so-called "Bottle and Pyjama" party, hosted by Olwen as Erina, to a fabulous cast of real-life Bohemians including Helen McNulty, Marc Brady, Liadain Herriott, Megan Kennedy, Dragana Jurisic, Caoimhin O Briain, Gary Farrelly, and more arty bohos.  No acting required.

Bottle & Pyjama Party photographed by Dragana Jurisic
Dance Emergency has also been graced with the epic talents of gorgeous Zena Donnelly as young Erina; Tom Hickey, as Erina's cousin Tom Brady, and Peter Sheridan, who takes a genius turn as the detective.   So as you can imagine I can't wait to get into the edit next Monday June 17th and see how this all cuts together.  Lan ar aghaidh!
Dragana Jurisic and Megan Kennedy photographed by Dragana Jurisic

In the meantime I've been transcribing interviews, and planning it all out.  I've also been sorting the fundit film awards - namely, prints relating to "1943 - A Dance Odyssey", with the help and advice in this case of fine art printers, Inspirational Arts.   So if you are one of the generous believers who is waiting for one of these, rest assured the pigment print is drying and it will soon be wending its way in your direction. 

It was a total thrill on May 28th, to see the fruits of this labour, "1943 - A Dance Odyssey", for the first time on the big screen as part of Bealtaine Festival at Axis Arts Centre, Ballymun.  The audience was wonderful, comprising many of the performers from CoisCeim Dance Theatre's preceding "Dance Across Dublin" show, who were lapping it up, and appreciating the presence of the impressive Ann Fryer/Walsh.  Ann was one of the tiny tots in the 1943 film, and currently teaches keep fit classes across Dublin herself in the Fitness League.  As one of the audience members astutely pointed out, Ann is a real advertisement for Modern Dance as an art form.  From my own point of view, it was amazing to hear a live audience respond wholeheartedly to the film - laughing, ooh-ing, ahh-ing, and generally empathising. 
Tree Duet, TickKnock, with Olwyn Lyons and Ingrid Nachstern

Coincidentally, in something like a full circle since Richard Boyd Barrett kindly opened the Bohemians Exhibition at European Union House in memory of June Fryer, on May 9th, 2012 [see below], yesterday afternoon, at his TickKnock "Save our Forests" event, our eco-dancers Olwyn Lyons and Ingrid Nachstern reprised Jessica Kennedy's aforementioned "Erina Brady Tree Dance" choreography from Dance Emergency in a gorgeous "Tree Duet" to "Pass this On" by cool Swedish band "The Knife".  The weather was much better this time around! I'm sure Erina Brady would have been happy with that, and maybe was hovering around  in some other benevolent dimension.  But that's just the friendly tree-loving ghosts...
Tree Duet, with Ingrid Nachstern and Olwyn Lyons

Speaking of ghosts - in other news, my BAI funded Yeats radio project "Words for Music Perhaps" is also happening...  More of which soon enough.  Watch this spooky space... Woo, woo.
Tree Duet, with Ingrid Nachstern and Olwyn Lyons

Oh and one other thing - in the meantime, after the Dance Emergency Shoot, Dublin Dance Festival 2013 ran from May 14th - 28th.  I was happy to be invited on to RTE Radio One's "Arts Tonight" with Vincent Woods, to discuss the proceedings with Seona Mac Reamoinn.  (I told you it has been busy).  Here is a link if you'd like to listen back to the podcast:

And all of that without even mentioning the whole lettuce and purple sprouting broccoli phenomenon in my urban back yard.  I'll save that for another day.

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