A dinner dance with a difference at Cork’s Midsummer Festival

Laura Murphy: The admission fee to A Dance Concerto is two cans of fruit or beans, all of which will then be donated to Cork Penny Dinners.

Choreographer Laura Murphy is planning something very new and different for this year’s Cork Midsummer Festival.

A Dance Concerto, which premieres on June 19, will involve people from all walks of life, some with experience, some with none, but linked together in a composition of cans. Food cans to be precise, cans of fruit, cans of beans, passed from hand to hand, struck with sticks, rattled, creating their own music as the performers move.

This is a community dance project writ large, which Murphy is creating and choreographing with composer Irene Buckley, as part of the dancer in residency scheme at the Firkin Crane. And she wants as many local people involved as possible, which is why she’s inviting applications for inclusion.

“I am always keen to invite the community into not only the professional world of dance but also the creation process, and then become part of a professionally based project,” says Murphy, whose work is widely recognised internationally.

“The idea for A Dance Concerto is one I have had for a while. I did a version of it for Kinsale Arts Week in 2010, and I have wanted to develop it since with a live sound score and more detailed choreography.”

The Concerto is based on the concept of Laban Movement Choirs from the 1940s, where groups of professional, pre-professional and community dancers came together to move much like a choir, with different rhythms and in different spatial formations.

“Laban believed movement in dance came from movement in everyday life. I do believe dance can be for everyone. Of course that’s not to say that everyone is capable or even interested in being a professional, but I do want people to be able to gain access to movement freely in my work and enjoy it — reaping its creative, physical and emotional benefits.”

It’s not just a quirky idea, emphasises Murphy. The use of familiar everyday objects is also linked to far wider themes within the community.

Food, the need for it, the lack of it, is reflected in the use of filled cans of fruit and beans, so necessary for those enduring privation and hard times. On completion of the project, these cans will be donated to Cork Penny Dinners. Audience members are asked to bring cans of food too, as the price of their tickets, and these will also go to Penny Dinners.

“There is a very real purpose behind this: that the community which may be out of the beneficial reach of an arts project get to reap some rewards on a very real/practical level.

“The work the Penny Dinners do is priceless. I hope this project can help raise further awareness of their kind work whilst donating some food.”

nThose interested in being involved in this performance (no dance/movement/music experience necessary) can email Laura at murphylauraireland@gmail.com. Community rehearsals run June 9-18 with public performance on June 19.

* A Dance Concerto, Millennium Hall, Cork City Hall, Thursday, June 19, 6.30pm. Admission: two cans of fruit or beans. Booking through Firkin Crane on 021-4507487


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