All the right moves

The Dublin Dance Festival showcases innovative performances in diverse venues. It’s for everyone, says Jo Kerrigan

INNOVATIVE, stimulating dance in diverse locations. That is the Dublin Dance Festival. These ‘happenings’ — performance is too formal a word — will take place in venues such as the Abbey Theatre, the Irish Film Institute and Meeting House Square in Temple Bar. Let nobody accuse the DDF of being restrictive, of aiming for one audience. This is dance for everybody.

The DDF’s new director is Julia Carruthers. She has worked with arts organisations such as the Edinburgh International Festival, the Southbank Centre, and as dance officer at the Arts Council of England. Carruthers has even been listed in Time Out magazine’s London’s top 100 ‘movers, shakers and opinion makers’.

“It’s the eighth Dublin Dance Festival, but my first,” says Carruthers, “and we’re offering audiences a wealth of experiences from the diverse, creative, sensuous and adventurous worlds of contemporary dance.”

Carruthers is confident that the range of work will provoke new and different responses. It’s an eclectic mix of comedy, slapstick, intrigue, virtuoso performers — oh, and a choir, a coffin, clouds, invisible objects, and heaven knows what more.

This miraculous exercise in international relations gathers artists from 17 countries to show Irish audiences what’s happening at home and internationally. “We will share dance that can make you feel and imagine more intensely — this is dance revealing what it is to be alive,” says Carruthers.

One of the star events will be the first appearance in Ireland of the pioneering Trisha Brown Dance Company from New York. A legendary figure of American modern dance (her company is in its 40th year), Brown has revolutionised choreography. For three nights only at the Abbey (May 17-19), audiences will have the rare opportunity to see the company’s latest work and its classic repertory.

Irish and UK artists will be opening the festival this Friday, Liz Roche Company (formerly Rex Levitates Dance Company) will premiere Body and Forgetting, while choreographer Sarah Dowling will present The Wake, danced by two performers from The Royal Ballet in London, accompanied by live traditional Irish music.

The festival will also feature significant European choreographic personalities.

Choreographer Yuval Pick is from Israel but has been working in France for many years. His group, CCNR, will perform Score, an arresting work laced with an undercurrent of violence, and rooted in Yuval’s experience of his native land.

Jonathan Burrows — described as “the Christopher Columbus of dance” — returns to DDF with composer/performer Matteo Fargion and a delightfully absurd, funny and wise double bill: Cheap Lecture and The Cow Piece, eccentric and chaotic mediations on dance, music and mortality.

Mette Edvardsen will appear in Black, conjuring up an entire domestic scene — pot plant, pet dog, and all — on a bare stage, using only words and movements.

Several new European works will be presented, including the quirky I Will Try from Moscow, in which Alexander Andriyashkin quizzes the audience about how to improve the solo he has just performed for them; Berlin-based Korean Howool Baek’s NOTHING, an elegant yet bizarre miniature using fingers, toes, hands and feet, and Latvian Dmitrijs Gaitjukevich’s hilarious ideas about Girls’ Dreams.

As part of the festival’s exploration of encounters between dance and technology, Vienna-based Klaus Obermaier will be presenting the spectacular, illusion-packed Apparition, in which interactive technology becomes a virtual third partner.

Klaus Obermaier will also be keynote speaker at ‘Dancing with Fire: Technology, Performance, Objects and Environments’, a symposium exploring where the performing arts can take us in a technologically connected, globally engaged culture.

This symposium is being held in partnership with the Arts Technology Research Lab, part of the Digital Arts and Humanities programme at Trinity College.

There will be dance from the Orient, too. Divya Kasturi will present two works offering an insight into the vibrant traditions and new directions in South Asian dance, exploring her experience of being ‘in between’ the UK and India.

The festival’s focus on technology will be evident in her collaboration with composer and digital artist John-Marc Gowans, exploiting Divya’s Carnatic vocal training, using live vocals, interactive video and audio technology.

Classically trained Kathak dancer, Aakash Odedra, will be performing three short solos from choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and his mentor Akram Khan, alongside a more traditionally based Kathak piece of his own creation. This work features atmospheric lighting along with richly varied music.

Fear not, though, Ireland will also be well-represented. Junk Ensemble, winners of best Fringe production 2011, will premiere The Falling Song, a new work looking at male physicality and its extremities. Brokentalkers will revive Blue Boy, their urgent and topical work about institutionalised child abuse.

The Burning House, a haunting piece of visual theatre reflecting on the life and imagination of Padraig Pearse, will be making its first public appearance in advance of an anticipated major work for the 1916 anniversary celebrations. The production is an international creative collaboration, directed by Alan Gilsenan with musical direction by Martin Hayes, working with Iarla Ó Lionaird, Dennis Cahill and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, and an eclectic international company of dancers and other performers, including Nigel Charnock and Koffi Koko. Liv O’Donoghue will present an extract of Prompted Breathless, a work questioning what makes us human, with movement drawn from the real-life memories of four dancers.

Re-Presenting Ireland, a regular festival fixture, will showcase work by Catherine Young, Maria Nilsson-Waller, John Scott/IMDT, Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company, 50% Male Experimental Theatre and Philip Connaughton.

Spanish company, Aracaladanza, renowned for their stylish work for children, will show the colourful Nubes (Clouds), inspired by Belgian painter René Magritte. At Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, Divya Kasturi will present the sights and sounds of classical Indian dance in a gorgeous encounter for all the family.

During the festival, there will be guerrilla dance action on Grafton Street, culminating in a spectacular street celebration of dance on May 20, courtesy of Luca Silvestrini’s company, Protein. They will be joined by scores of musicians and local dancers, with everyone welcome to learn the moves and join in the show.

For film buffs, there will be a Sunday afternoon of Dance on Film shorts in collaboration with the Irish Film Institute, featuring a mix of dance for the camera and left-field animation works that tease us about what dancing is and who/what can do it.

There is something for all the family in this year’s programme.

* Dublin Dance Festival May 11-26.


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