Sunday, June 29, 2014

Premiere of "Dance Emergency"/ "Damhsa na hEigeandala" at Galway Film Fleadh, July 10th :-)

Just back from a fantastic conference at NUIG entitled "Ireland and the Emergency", with so many fascinating contributions, and a keynote by Robert Fisk, no less, who revisited the subject of his PhD at TCD on The Emergency - looking at it in context of his work in the Middle East at the moment.  Brilliant!  Yesterday morning (Saturday) I too contributed, giving a paper entitled "Emergency Encounters of the Cultural Kind", and was delighted of the opportunity to do so.  Big thanks to Dr. Mark Phelan and the Conference Organisers!  It is always such a breath of fresh air to get down to Galway, where as well as the food for thought (no wartime rationing there!), last night I discovered the oasis that is The Heron's Rest B & B on The Long Walk.  If you ever get a room there you will be very lucky, the view over Claddagh Quay is dreamy, the food, scrumptious, the vibe, perfect.
 Luckily I have the best excuse ever to return to Galway very soon again, for the screening of the 52 minute documentary I have been working on for a few years now, "Dance Emergency"/ "Damhsa na hEigeandala", on July 10th at noon in the Cinemobile along with a special screening of "1943 - A Dance Odyssey".  Would be so great to see you there, at my favourite film festival, if you are nearby,  Here is all the info and a few images to hopefully whet your appetite:
Olwen Fouere as Erina Brady, teaching class in her studio

Oh, and the trailer!:

Against the backdrop of seldom-seen 1940’s bohemian Dublin, and suspicions of Nazi espionage, we recount an Irish-German artist’s forgotten struggle to bring Modern Dance/ German Ausdruckstanz to a conservative, inchoate Ireland that was not yet ready for it.  

Olwen Fouere as Erina Brady, being interrogated by Detective James McGuire

Interpreted beautifully by the great Olwen Fouere, choreographed by Jessica Kennedy of Junk Ensemble, we frame Erina Brady’s legacy in the context of the thriving contemporary dance scene in Ireland today. 
Olwen Fouere as Erina Brady, being monitored by Peter Sheridan, as Detective James McGuire
  Interviewees include the late Patrick Scott, Rionach Ni Neill, Fearghus O Conchuir, Declan Kiberd, and others.  Actors include Peter Sheridan, Tom Hickey, Pat Laffan, Michael James Ford, Una Kavanagh, Zena Donnelly, and Niamh Shaw.   
Olwen Fouere as Erina Brady, being interrogated by Peter Sheridan, as Detective James McGuire
Written & Directed by Deirdre Mulrooney
Produced by Midas Productions for TG4 Splanc!
Original Score by Conor Linehan
Running Time: 52 mins

Margaret Becker, in Liam O Laoghaire's 1943 film "Dance School"
There will also be a special screening of the related “1943 ­ A Dance Odyssey” in the same Galway Film Fleadh programme:

Once upon a time, during World War Two (or "The Emergency", as it was known
 in Ireland), enigmatic Irish-German woman Erina Brady brought cutting edge
Modern Dance to Ireland, from Germany.  A forgotten reel of film by Irish film industry founder Liam Ó Laoghaire immortalised the mysterious modern dancer teaching her tiny pupils in her Harcourt Street Studio and dancing freely in the open air in his 1943 gem of a film, "Dance School".

Setting eyes on this rare footage for the first time, 1943 -- A Dance Odyssey brings five of Brady's former tiny tots on an odyssey to a bygone era in her enchanted Irish School of Dance Art studio.

Seventy years on, 1943 -- A Dance Odyssey, explores who were these tiny
dancers, attempting an arabesque, and stretching out their little limbs in
barefoot dance of expression? Where did the dance of life take them?

Unlocking fond memories of those extraordinary classes the women share how
The modern dance pioneer influenced their lives, and opened them up to a
lifetime of creativity.

 Produced, Written & Directed by Deirdre Mulrooney

Featuring: The Becker Sisters: Margaret Becker, Romy Hogan, Barbara Sweetman Fitzgerald; Ann Danaher/ McGuire; Ann Fryer/Walsh.
 Shot & Edited by Mia Mullarkey

Original score by Rossa Ó Snodaigh
Running time: 25 minutes
Crowd-funded by 63  fabulous micro-philanthropists, via <, & by RTE.

 "The past was... another country in ‘1943 - A Dance Odyssey' in which three
sisters and two other women revisited the Harcourt Street premises where
 German-Irish Erina Brady had taught them modern dance 70 years earlier.
 Their reminiscences of this exotic, bohemian woman were touching and there was a
 haunting and affecting quality to Deirdre Mulrooney's short film"...
(John Boland, Irish Independent Weekend Review, April 6th, 2013).

Book by clicking here

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Busy times, and sad times as a great spirit passes on, but not without leaving important traces...

It has been a busy couple of months, and now suddenly here we are in full of bloom of summer.  Midsummer approaches!  During the tenth edition of Dublin Dance Festival last month, I did reports on RTE Arena, and on The Arts Show (Aileen O'Meara Productions for RTE).  I gave a talk on the lovely topic of "Patrick Scott and the Ballets Jooss" at VISUAL Carlow (wonderful space).

Sadly now however, looking back to the St. Patrick's Day Special on Dance in Ireland on RTE's The History Show with Myles Dungan, featuring a conversation between Barbara O'Connor, Diarmaid Ferriter and myself interspersed with excerpts from my 2004 radio series "Nice Moves", and interviews I set up for the show with Ann Fryer/Walsh (on her time as a pupil of Erina Brady in the 1940s) - little did we know that the great Percy Lovegrove's upbeat and heartfelt contribution to the show on the joys of ballroom dancing in 1940s and 1950s Dublin would be his last public address.   Percy, author of An Auld Cockle Picker (for which I was honoured to contribute the foreword on his late wife, Abbey School of Ballet original Doreen Cuthbert in 2008), has sadly passed away at the age of 93.

Percy generously and enthusiastically shared part of his extraordinary life story with me in my 2011 BAI-funded radio documentary "Doreen - Telling the Dancer from the Dance", about the achievements of his late wife Doreen, and her first-hand reminiscences of WB Yeats, NInette de Valois, Lennox Robinson, et al, and their subsequent life in Kenya, broadcast on RTE Lyric FM.  You can listen back here:

I was extremely fortunate to get to know Percy and Doreen, to become their friend, to be regaled and entertained by their extraordinary life experiences, to have their encouragement and support, and to learn from their words of wisdom.  Undoubtedly, discovering and getting to know one-of-a-kind people like Doreen and Percy, is one of the perks of being a dance historian and documentary maker, that make the precarity of this freelance endeavour worthwhile.  I am grateful for all the inspiration Percy gave me which I will carry forward.  If I get anywhere near his 93 years, I'll be doing well.  Any of us will.  May the extraordinary auld cockle picker rest in peace. 
Percy chatting with Wendy in front of his book display at Sweny's