Monday, May 21, 2012

Bohemians: Et ce Chant dans mon Coeur at European Union House until May 30th

"Bohemians: Et ce Chant dans mon Coeur", in memory of Ireland's first Modern Dancer, June Kuhn, was launched at European Union House on May 15th.  You can catch the exhibition from Monday to Friday from 10am until 5pm, at the corner of Dawson Street and Molesworth street.  Erina Brady herself, and her little students, will be dancing out onto Molesworth street on 3 DVD screens in Liam O'Leary's 1943 short film "Dance School" until midnight, each weekday.  I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

To coincide with Dublin Dance Festival, Dr. Deirdre Mulrooney & Padraic E Moore in partnership with Alliance Francaise present Bohemians: Et ce Chant dans mon Coeur at European Union House (corner of Molesworth & Dawson st), May 9th – 30th, an exhibition of illustrated poetry, written by dancer Jacqueline Robinson, and illustrated by Basil Rákóczi  founder of the White Stag Art Group.  This beautiful series of prints was made in Paris, where Robinson founded L’Atelier de la Danse, inspired by what she learned from forgotten modern dance pioneer Erina Brady when, along with Basil Rákóczi she was one of many Bohemian refugees in Dublin during World War Two.

This exhibition of rare 1971 prints, is in memory of Ireland’s first modern dancer, the recently deceased June Kuhn
(née Fryer), with whom Jacqueline Robinson trained, and performed in many Dublin venues including the Abbey and Peacock theatres, and the Mansion House, as well as in the Archives de la Danse in Paris, and at the Rudolf Steiner Hall in London in the 1940’s.  Jacqueline Robinson was subsequently awarded a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government for her contribution to Modern Dance.  

Liam O’Leary’s rare 1943 short film “Dance School” featuring Modern Dance Pioneer Erina Brady and her Irish School of Dance Art pupils - with an open air dancing sequence in the Iveagh Gardens - will also be screened on a loop in the windows of Europe House, alongside b/w photographs of Brady’s 1940’s choreographies.
In partnership with the Alliance Francaise and Irish Film Archive. With special thanks to Walter Kuhn for sharing his private collection of prints, a personal gift from the artists.

Women watching themselves dancing in Liam O'Leary's 1943 film "Dance School", 70 years later! (Photos by Roman Zdanonv).

What a lovely crowd :-)

H.E. Emanuelle d'Achon, French Ambassador to Ireland, speaking about this Dublin-Paris connection.
That's Ann Walsh (nee Fryer), in the background, in Erina Brady's 1943 Modern Dance Class. She was also at the exhibition opening. (Photo: Angel Luis Gonzalez)
'This is the best of Europe, and the best of ourselves', says TD Richard Boyd Barrett, whose grandfather Cyril Cusack collaborated with Erina Brady in Austin Clarke's Lyric Theatre Company at the Abbey Theatre in the 1940's. Austin Clarke's son Dardis Clarke was also in attendance.
Framed poetry, how lovely.

Photo: Angel Luis Gonzalez

Dancing 'clouds' in the Iveagh Gardens, 1943, out on Molesworth street, 2012.

Erina Brady's dancing 'clouds', Iveagh Gardens 1943, transposed to Molesworth street, 2012.

Happy Erina Brady, in her Irish School of Dance Art Studio, 1943, filmed by Liam O'Laoghaire

I chatted about this exhibition, the Dance Festival, and Dance in Ireland in general, in a broad-ranging discussion with Vincent Woods and guests on RTE Radio One's "Arts Tonight" last Monday - you can listen back to the podcast by clicking here.
A snippet of our conversation was also played back on RTE Radio One's "Playback" show on Saturday morning.  Happy Days.
Thanks to Village Magazine for running the above Advertisement
Thanks to the many people and institutions (particularly Claire Bourgeois and Francoise Brung at the Alliance Francaise; Karen Wall at the Irish Film Archive; and Alessandro Lentini, Roman Zdanonv, and Pedro at European Union House), who contributed to, and turned up to this event, and supported the forgotten Bohemians! Vive la France :-) ...
Much appreciated.

Monsoon Wedding on Dhalti Sham Bollywood Radio Show!

I enjoyed a great afternoon last Thursday week chewing the fat with Siraj Zaidi on his Bollywood radio show "Dhalti Sham" on Dublin South 93.9FM, as he re-broadcast my Irish Monsoon Wedding documentary.

Should you be curious to have a listen, here are some links to follow:
Here's a copy of the first part from 2pm -  3pm

Here's  a copy of the second part from 3pm - 4pm

Eureka! Catalogue Note

From a thermo-electric generator project in Malawi to a science-themed Art show in Dublin!... I also spent a lot of time over the last few months getting my head around The Blue Leaf Gallery's current show in their groovy new space at Whitaker Court (behind the Maldron Hotel, at Grand Canal Dock until July).  An eclectic bunch of thirteen artists, all loosely themed around the topic of science and technology.  There was an avalanche of trans-Atlantic emailing back and forth between the artists and I, none of whom I had ever met, in my endeavour to pen catalogue note, and press release.  As I was writing, and thinking, and conversing with the many artists on where they were coming from, it struck me that my pal New York-based Irish artist Catherine Owens's sidereal and 3D work would sit really well among them.  So we invited her, and this led to her stunning piece "Space Junk" getting into the mix, which elevated me to the high status of a contributing curator to the show.  Anyway, here is the opus, or should I say the catalogue note.  Pix to follow which will make this easier to read.

Meditations on the light and dark sides of discovery in science and technology as explored through the eyes of three Irish, and ten American contemporary and emerging artists.

We this people
On this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living.
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing,
Irresistible tenderness,
That the haltered neck is happy to bow,
And the proud back is glad to bend.
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines…
From “Space Junk” by Maya Angelou

Exploratorium Founder Frank Oppenheimer called artists and scientists “the official ‘noticers’ of society,” adding that “they notice things that other people either have never learned to see or have learned to ignore, and communicate those ‘noticings’ to others.
Eureka! Is a term generally referring to discovery. But, discovery and awareness is not always beneficial. It can, in fact, be lethal.  Science and Technology has its dark side.  J. Robert Oppenheimer invented the atomic bomb, and his first revelation was from the Hindu text, "I have become death, a destroyer of worlds".

Anxiety underlies much of the American artists’ work in Eureka! – from Rick Newton’s spitfires and Dali-esque sci-fi lobster pincers emerging out of a clear blue sky; to Kirsten Deirup’s mounds of non-biodegradable rubbish, to the spray-paint feel of Jean-Pierre Roy’s apocalyptic atomic mushroom cloud paintings, and the polish of Bethany Krull’s porcelain pets (which might be in conversation with Damian Hirst’s sharks and calves preserved in formaldehyde).

But the world of science and technology can also be a fun, affirmative, and playful one, as in Kyle Trowbridge’s ‘paintings that text’, Allison Schullnik’s retro stop-motion claymation music videos and Catherine Owens’ sidereal wonder.
If “Science” is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment” (OED) and Technology, from the ancient Greek Tekhne, which incidentally means ‘art, craft’, is defined as ‘the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes’ (OED), then Artists are naturally to be found at that intersection, performing their own alchemy on the edges between humanity, technology, and science.  That is where the cutting edge of science has lived since time immemorial, pushing the limits, dreaming, imagining the previously unimaginable – and sometimes bringing it into being, for better or for worse.

Similarly, the artist as explorer/ searcher/ expeditionist is constantly striving towards that Damascene moment, where like Saul, the scales fall from their eyes and new visions are beheld, new connections, opening a door to transformation, and maybe even enlightenment (Pauline or not).

That’s the point where the scientist exclaims Eureka! “A cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something: from Gk Heureka ‘I have found it’, said to have been uttered by Archimedes when he hit upon a method of determining the purity of gold (OED).

Equally, each artist has their own Epiphany “a moment of sudden and great revelation”, which, most crucially they communicate to us via their work – whatever form that may take.  In this eclectic exhibition the forms are myriad. 

Across the planet, from mobile phone charging huts in African villages to technology super-stores in downtown New York, everybody knows that our love affair with pervasive technology ‘the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes’ is at an all-time high.  Inextricable to what sociologist Raymond Williams calls the ‘structure of feeling’ of our society, we can’t leave home without it - there it is, in our pockets, subtly, and sometimes insidiously embedded into the fibre of our very existence. Like a Trojan Horse, ubiquitous technology has infiltrated into the very matrix of our human “being”, as we mediate the world through smart phones, communicating through truncated text messages, cartoon-esque emoticons, relying on this intangible, virtual world for intimacy through disembodied skype on lap-tops, desk-tops, tablets and i-pads.  This, too, can be both good and bad. 

Have you ever stopped to think how (say, compared to previous generations, who had nothing mediating between themselves and their “”live experience”), we negotiate and navigate the world mostly through small rectangular screens?  In Eureka!, artist Patrick Jacobs playfully subverts and interrogates this with his quaint, circular, 18th century Claude Frames. Think how anthropologically fascinating it must be to an onlooker, how we tap, gaze into, and even pet our rectangular screens like we might  a beloved dog or a cat.  Which brings me to Bethany Krull’s exquisite, yet somehow disquieting porcelain pets. 

These days, going outside the front door sans mobile phone can produce separation anxiety of a most intense nature. Without the mobile phone, though we may actually be in the outside world, we feel cut off from it.  In a variation on this theme, in her “Frankenstein’s monster” type oeuvre artist Bethany Krull raises the issue of how warm, cuddly – and terrifying - technology has become.  She puts this to us in her polished, porcelain current series called “Dominance and Affection”, revealing how we have tamed wild nature, and genetically modified it to suit our inner control freak. ‘In today’s nature-deprived society, our most intimate connection tends to be with plants and animals that we have drastically altered through the process of domestication.  Instead of us succumbing to our role as part of nature, nature must bend to our will, and it is science and technology that makes this happen”.  Far beyond Stanley Kubrik’s prophetic Hal in “2001: A Space Odyssey” - have we finally lost our last shred of humility where nature is concerned?  What ever happened to mystery?

“We have turned wild animals into companions, genetically sculpting them into sweeter, cuter, less dangerous versions of themselves”, says Krull. “We shower our pets with love at the same time we cage and contain them and it is this affection contradicting complete control that I am interested in illustrating in my work. For no amount of love lavished upon these creatures will erase the fact that the success of the relationship lies in our complete domination over all aspects of their existence.”

“Zoology (the study of animals) and Ethology (a more specific study of animal behavior) play quite significant roles in my work as I am constantly exploring the ways in which the human animal interacts with other species (which is often informed by the psychological sciences as well as ethics) and how wild species come to be domesticated. I am interested in the complicated and often contradictory attitudes our society often maintains with other species as well as the human species propensity to dominate.”
Meanwhile, in her Claymation music videos, artist Allison Schulnik brings us back to the earth Patrick Kavanagh deifies in his 1942 poem “The Great Hunger”, with his opening gambit “Clay is the Word, and Clay is the flesh”. Schulnik’s “Mound”, “Hobo” and “Forest”, bring us back to the joy of primordial goo. Abandoning the blatantly hi-tech because it is disconnected from the physical aspects of what makes a sculptural artist a creator, her paradoxically luddite claymations, are populated with Apichatong Weerasethakul type creatures, UFO’s, primordial slime, hobos, clowns, and the occasional extra-terrestrial.  Her stop-motion animation, with plasticine clay, where objects are constantly adjusted by hand and photographed to create movement on film - are striking for their gloopy colour-burst painterly quality, going back to the child-like basics and wonder of squeezing raw colour out of a tube of paint, and mushing it around on the palette.
Here, she introduces the elemental science of dancing: spellbinding Martha-Graham esque choreography is conjured out of this colourburst slime to mesmeric effect.  Schulnik’s sculptural claymation music videos – with the occasional UFO – bring us back to a reassuringly earthy world of yore.

In “Metathesiophobia I Irish Sculptor Margaret O’Brien’s gorgeous, part unctuous, part crystalline “Gallium” plunges us into the old-fashioned science of Mechanical Engineering, and the feel of being back in school science lab. Developing her own alchemy of slow and repetitive changes in temperature, O’Brien allows various forms of the metal Gallium, whose state and form is constantly in flux to invite metaphorical exploration of the relationship and boundaries between the physical and the psychological.  

“Metathesiophobia I uses the physical properties of the metal gallium to explore the relationship and boundaries between the physical and the psychological, with particular regard to the experience of objects and conditions of space” shares O’Brien. “Gallium is one of five metals whose physical state is unstable at or near room temperature and, due to its physical properties, it does not solidify into the same physical form twice but reforms with each change in state. With the changing nature of the material, the relationship of the viewer to the ‘object’ is destabilized as familiarity with its form is continually undermined.”

Constantly in a kind of Heraclitean flux - due to the changing nature of the material, the relationship of the viewer to the ‘object’ is destabilized as familiarity with its form is continually undermined. This results in the viewer’s referencing through association being constantly challenged and redressed.

“I use science or technology to introduce the possibility of malfunction or technical failure into the work, as a formal condition of the work that informs and renegotiates shifting boundaries between the physical and psychological. The language of the works is anchored on the interstice between operational and breakdown so that the work embodies a condition of impossibility within the threat of technical failure, and endless conditions of possibility or potentiality within the realm of its functioning or semi-functioning capacity. In doing this, the experience of the physical and psychological is interweaved within the experience of the work. “

From there to the playful science of games: have you ever wondered, if abstract painting could text, what it might say? Wave your mobile phone in front of Kyle Trowbridge’s Piet Mondriaan Style painting and find out! Like a Trojan horse, Kyle Trowbridge has embedded messages into his scannable painting, so the viewer experiences this oxymoron of literal text emanating out of abstraction. “Much of my work in the past has been based on buried subtext… It’s the idea that things are never what they appear to be that I am truly in love with.  So when you pick up your phone and scan my paintings, you can see the literal message it conveys.” This work could trace its lineage to morse code, which, in its day was high technology indeed.

“I think at its root, the idea of using codes can cloak meaning in such interesting ways. Leaving my art to perform like a wolf in sheep’s clothing or is it a sheep in wolf’s clothing!”

“I do not believe these to be a far stretch from the literal definitions of the terms science and technology” he elaborates. “These are technologically based because the very foundation of these paintings relies on the structuring of the QR code. but it does not end with the painting itself. To unlock the full potential of these paintings one must again rely on their smart phones to decipher the code/painting. Technology by way of the computer is used to convert my text and generate a coded version. It is then technology once again that is used to translate this digital language. Technology itself mirrors current social trends greatly. It is the computer and its heavy interrelation with life, society, and our environment, that further increases the drawing upon such subjects as computer science, engineering, and applied science. The Quick Response code is one more excuse to pull out our phones and justify their existence!”

“Colour theory and the science of colour plays a great part in the creation of these works as QR codes are designed to be mono chromatic. This of course is because there are inherent limitations in the smartphone camera lens that is to act as a scanner for these codes. Believe me I have spent many hours struggling with certain colours to keep these paintings scannable. There are so many variables (hue, chroma, saturation, intensity, value, clash, simultaneous contrast, etc. etc.) that only the breaking down of colour to a science can help overcome / manage them.”

Meanwhile, in another scientific realm, at the forefront of experimental film and media since the 1980’s, Leslie Thornton’s kaleidoscopic Ant Video, Bluebear, Fish, and zebra lure us into a hyper National Geographic type of environment.

Deconstructing the ubiquitous rectangular screen our 2012 world is framed in, we see Patrick Jacobs’ hallucinatory mushrooms emerge in trippy perspective through an anachronistic Claude glass – a circular optical device popular in the 18th century used to frame the picturesque.  The quaint yet disorienting combination of the pretty frame –– coupled with Jacobs’ negative focal length of the concave lenses and sculptural foreshortening all combine to create an illusion of infinite depth within a narrow space.  Ingeniously, the artist has made you a magic mushroom, and a teeny fairy ring, revelling in the beauty and pharmacology of the nature his art mimics. 


“A kind of pseudoscience often characterizes my work in which the everyday conspires to transcend to the supernatural”, he says.  “We have always attempted to understand the world around us through a mixture of scientific fact and cultural assumptions, wishful thinking or even magic.  The fairy ring fungus series centers on a folk-tale which held that dark grass and mushrooms growing in a circle followed the path made by fairies dancing in a ring.  An ordinary natural phenomenon - the bane of lawn owners and gardeners - thus becomes the object of wonder.   Each work consists of a constructed, three-dimensional diorama lighted from within and viewed through a circular window of glass lenses.  Recalling the Claude glass, an optical device popular in the 18th century used to frame the picturesque, and Chevron's Ortho home and garden brochures, the lenses also invoke the invisible eye of the wary homeowner searching a landscape for imagined interlopers.  Installed within the wall, the physical diorama vanishes and we struggle to ascertain an image which can only exist within our mind.   The combination of the negative focal length of the concave lenses and sculptural foreshortening creates the illusion of infinite depth within a narrow space.  Blurring boundaries between painting, sculpture and photography the works present the viewer with a spatial and perceptual conundrum;  we are drawn into a space at once determinate and infinite, natural and contrived, prosaic and otherworldly.   In the foreground, we behold a detail of a cluster of mushrooms tenderly recreated with a degree of botanical accuracy.  Then, our gaze is drawn deeper into a space with an impossible bird's eye view of a distant, fantastical landscape.  The unwanted, or mundane become synonymous with a disorienting even hallucinatory experience”.

The Salvador Dali-esque, anxious world of Rick Newton, where spitfire planes and lobster pincers emerge out of the sky rhymes with the age-old Shakespearean sentiment ‘like fies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport”.  Inspired by scientific textbook illustrations, and incorporating Cold War imagery, Newton has created a personal mythology concerning the future of the planet – with a generous dollop of post 9-11 angst. 

As regards how science informs his work, Newton offers: “If the applied science of technology is perceived as an icon for the modern desire to provide for human growth, then my work is informed by this ideal trajectory.  For me, technological innovations signify change and the climate of opinion from the various epochs artificially imposed by scientific inquiry.  For the modern period, change over time can be traced via technological innovations”.

Science has become the beacon for ‘Revelation’ in Jean-Pierre Roy’s painterly, post-divine, materialist world. “Classical Western Art traditions often have at their core a desire for "Revelation", he offers.  “As the material and existential unknowns formally relegated to the realm of the "divine" give up their secrets to the small, unwavering and clarifying lens of rational investigation, "Science" has become the beacon for this act of "Revelation" for a post-divine, materialist world-view.”  

“The day to day evolution of the state of the scientific conversation makes its way into my work- from Geology and Meteorology, to Thermodynamics and Particle Physics.  On a macro-level, my work seeks to evoke a place for the viewer to contemplate the act of discovery itself.  The Enlightenment gave rise to schools of sculptors and painters that sought to codify the "old world-view" shattering ideas of Christiaan Huygens, Galileo and Tycho Brahe.  Artists like Casper Davide Friedrich and painters from the American Luminist Tradition sought to move the sublime mysteries of the world out of the damp confines of the cloisters and pews of the church and out into the light of the now Sun-Centric planetary system and the dappled star light of a much larger cosmos”.

“Drawing on these traditions of light as a metaphor for the rational mind, my work continues to explore the luminous boundaries between the known and the unknown, or as 19th century mathematician Georg Cantor put it "the chasm between what he had seen and what he knew must be there, but could never reach."  

Lenny Campello gives us a virtual wink as he brings us back to the retro technology of Tube TV and old soap operas in his installation.  Featuring 1950’s couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in a classic bedroom farce moment from iconic series “I Love Lucy”, Desi walks in and catches Lucy in the arms of his fellow Cuban – Fidel Castro.   Storytelling and narrative will always be part of the fabric of what it is to be human, and Campello reminds us that technology, is often but a tool to plug in to this innate and ancient human need. 

“My work has always been about the narrative and/or storytelling”, he says. “My marriage of a traditional and well-established genre of art (such as drawing has been for centuries), with a modern form of technology is an attempt on my part to extend the narrative of the artwork via embedded videos or powerpoint presentations. The digital technology thus expands what the visual imagery offers via drawing and it adds more information, more clues, a deeper agenda, etc.”

Finally, out of all the sidereal, technological and scientific wonder in this exhibition, and on this ‘small and lonely planet, travelling through casual space, past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns’ in “Space Junk”, U2 collaborator, and 3D pioneer Catherine Owens invites us to consider Maya Angelou’s heartening assertion:

When we come to it, we must confess
That we are the possible,
We are the miraculous,
We are the true wonder of this world.

So go on, put your miraculous self in the vortex of the organic conversation that emerges between these eclectic art works, and perhaps experience your own epiphany.  Claim your own Eureka! Moment. 

Shawbrook Dance Mecca/ Irish Times Feature

It has been a busy few months.  Apologies, I haven't been able to update my blog in a while, but now that the sun came out, and exhibitions are well and truly launched, I am going to attempt an update today.  A couple of months ago I went on a little jaunt down to a secret Mecca in the middle of nowhere to catch up with Anica Louw and hear about her Longford Dance Festival.  Here is the feature I wrote on this happy and inspiring topic that was published in the Irish Times on April 13th: 

The middle of nowhere in County Longford is not the most obvious spot to stumble upon an international dance Mecca.  But that is exactly the kind of strange fruit that has sprouted up on a former dairy farm just outside Legan since the arrival of South African ballet dancer, actor, and expeditionista Anica Louw in 1978.  Intending to take a short breather from a series of far-flung archaeological expeditions, the intrepid Anica came to visit Longford farmer Philip Dawson who she had met in South Africa while he was doing a stint there as a young engineer.  The rest is dance history.   

Soon, the diminutive South African was teaching ballet to Longford locals.  Philip converted one of his barns into a dance studio, engineering a pulley system to fold old bus seats up into the barn ceiling, tucked away until they were needed for end-of-term performances.  Gradually he built more studios, a summer house and kitchen, a dinky tree house, and dormitories for the dancers who would eventually find their way to this Annaghmakerrig of dance – mostly through word of mouth.  The cattle were sold in 2000, and a rambling forest of 150,000 broad leaf trees were planted for artists to wander through while dreaming up new creations.  Michael Keegan Dolan’s internationally renowned Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre have created all but one of their shows in this magic space.

You are hit by creative ions floating around the farmhouse courtyard the minute you set foot in Shawbrook.  You could run into anyone here, from London opera composers and costume designers, to Royal Ballet dancers like Simon Rice and Slovakian contemporary dancer Vladislav Soltys - who will both be judging the Irish National Dance Awards, and giving masterclasses in the 2012 Longford Dance Festival.  Liam O’Maonlaoi is a recent addition to the Shawbrook Pantheon too after creating “Rian” here last year with Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre.

When I arrive on St. Patrick’s weekend, I am greeted in the summer house by Anica and Faroese dancer Kristina Sorenson Ougaard who is here on a residency mentoring Shawbrook Youth Dance Company.  Kristina and her Faroese colleagues composer Jens Thomson and actor Kjartan Hansen are about to create a show inspired by Faroese mythology called “A Voyage into the Faroes”, to premiere in Anica’s “Longford Dance Festival” at the Backstage Theatre in four weeks time. 

They are regrouping after their St. Patrick’s Day Flash Mob in Longford.  The next Shawbrook Flash Mob, this time to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, sung live by Melanie Zink, will be unleashed on Longford Town Square at 1pm on April 12th to launch the festival. 

Anica, now in her 60’s, is just back from a session on a Longford treadmill “on its steepest incline” wearing a stuffed backpack, training for her next solo expedition. No less of a free spirit than she ever was, her most recent expedition was to be to Lhasa, but when she got as far as Kathmandu, access to Tibet was unexpectedly closed so she settled for climbing in the Himalayas instead. Together with Chantal McCormick of Fidget Feet aerial dance theatre company, who lives closeby in what has turned into a most unlikely artist’s hamlet (Keegan Dolan and other dancers are also neighbours), they brought a show called “Invoke” to the famous Burning Man Festival in Nevada Desert in 2010. McCormick will also be giving a workshop in the imminent festival.

Sorenson Ougaard tells me she first came across Shawbrook when, “blown away” by Keegan Dolan’s “Giselle” at the Barbican Theatre in London, she got in touch and followed the crumb-trail to the place of Giselle’s creation.  A graduate of “The Place” school of dance in London, Kristina signed up for Shawbrook’s Advanced “E” Course, with Keegan Dolan.  This led to her current Shawbrook residency and to the creation of her Faroese co-production which will be shown in Torshvan, Faroe, one of the world’s smallest capitals after its Longford premiere. 

Anica has started, and continues to nurture many careers in dance here, but her biggest success story is that of local Marguerite Donlon, whose Donlon Dance Company in Saarbrucken, Germany, is now one of the most renowned contemporary dance companies in mainland Europe.  In 1980, at the age of 15, Donlon was a champion Irish dancer who loved to dance, sweeping the boards at Feiseanna Ceol.  Though late to start for a ballet dancer, Louw, who had just arrived, took Donlon on, and soon Donlon’s extraordinary Bournonville-style footwork catapulted her from performing for Peter Schaufuss in the English National Ballet, to being a soloist in the Deutsche Oper Berlin.  Donlon’s innate choreographic flair brought her to Saarbrucken where she established her own Donlon Dance Company.  In 2001 Anica’s 2nd Longford Dance Festival introduced Donlon’s unique mix of traditional Irish footwork and ballet back home to Longford’s Backstage Theatre. 

As well as “A Voyage into the Faroes”, the Festival, whose remit is to nurture local contemporary dance will also feature Louw’s own ballet “Pearly Beach”, named after a beach the Festival Director and Founder grew up near on the South African Cape.

For more info see