Dance Limerick Residency (Jan 2014)

[Photos: Maurice Gunning]


Initial Rehearsal Musings - Dancers and Space

After an initial movement research block on Woman Stood Regardless in 2013 where we established the main vocabulary for the piece, we finally started production on the work during our residency in Dance Limerick. The work for me was always going to be highly physical - so in selecting dancers, I wanted a cast of female dancers that were all very different from each other but all who were extremely capable physically. I worked with a number of dancers during the initial research on this work, all whom have left their mark on the piece and contributed in some way. Indeed during my initial work with the women in Kerry, we did quite a bit of movement research also, where a lot of the original motifs and gestures were established. So in a way working with many different women on the material has shaped it and given the movement different coloring and shading. I journaled quite a lot after my sessions with the Kerry women, distilled the essence of our talks down to a few key ideas and through the creative process, I keep coming back to these pages to keep me on track. There have been many months of additional reading and research around these ideas - enough material for a few pieces, so having these notes from the women's interviews keeps me grounded.

Our residency at Dance Limerick has finally allowed me to see the cast together. It's the first time they have all worked together and with me, so this period in Limerick in addition to devising the work is also a time for us all to get to know one another and each other's styles and idiosyncrasies. It will also allow me to see how their bodies work together and with the material. I like the fact that these four dancers will dance the same material slightly differently - each with their own persona. It allows me really see the person in the work and that interests me. As a choreographer, I am intrigued by how people move and try to be as attentive as I can to each dancers and really see them, what is it that brings them to life? what is it about them that interests me? In the four dancers in this work, Deirdre Griffin, Ivonne Kalter, Lucia Kickham and Mariam Ribon, they are all physically and stylistically different - and especially for this piece, I think that is important. Instead of imposing myself too much on them, there is a delciate balance in trying to find a middle path somewhere between my story and how I move and their own. So in a way we have to be in constant dialogue with each other to make that happen, so it's a real collaboration between all five of us.

It has been interesting to see how the space has begun to affect the work. Our initial research weeks were in DanceHouse, so in taking the piece into this huge renovated church space with high ceilings, large windows, stone walls and the chill of the January air,  suddenly phrases got larger and there was a lot more hurtling through space. The long strips of marlay laid length-ways down the church space vs across-ways, opened up sections of the work and really let the dancers rip through the space...which has naturally made its way into the work! It made me curious as to how the movement will be affected when we move into the Siamsa space and then back to DanceHouse in March.