Dublin Dance Festival – Preview


Dublin Dance Festival – Preview by Frances Winston

The phrase “something for everyone” gets bandied about a lot but this years Dublin Dance Festival really does have an incredibly broad appeal. While dance might seem like a very niche market that is not to everyone’s taste this year’s festival has an incredible variety of work that should appeal across the board. This is the 10th the festival and they really have pulled out all the stops to mark the anniversary.

There are many pieces that while featuring a dance element, are pure theatrics including Fringe 2013 Little Gem Award winner Swing. This was actually one of the festivals “show in a bag” presentations and here they take to the Peacock Stage with access to more lighting and effects than they had in their original home of Bewley’s Café Theatre which will add a while new element to the popular show.

Dan Canham’s Ours Was the Fen country is a documentary dance-theatre show which features recordings of people in rural communities in the Fen area whose lifestyle is slowly fading away. They use the words and memories of these people fused with movement to tell the tale in what could prove to be one of the most moving shows it the festival.

There are also a couple of Beckett offerings in the mix. To the uninitiated he may seem like a strange choice of writer to feature in a dance festival but he is quoted as saying: “Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” Arcane Collective bring Return to Absence to the Space Upstairs in the Project Arts Centre, which is based on Beckett’s trilogy of novels Molly, Malone Dies and The Unnamable. Beckett fans should also check out Quad in the same venue which is a movement sequence devised by the man himself. Originally a television play the always innovative Pan Pan theatre company have collaborated with Irish Modern Dance Theatre and Conor Houghton, a reader in mathematical neuroscience to present and explain this intriguing piece.

As always the festival features family friendly offerings. In Dun Laoighre’s Pavilion Theatre juggling spectacular Smashed will take to the stage and apparently you can expect plenty of crashing crockery. Meanwhile in the Ark the incredibly innovative L’après – midi d’un Foehn – Version 1 is sure to mesmerise. Other than Jean-Louis Ouvard the rest of the cast are made up of dancing plastic bags who perform an incredibly complex ballet all controlled by fans. This show is so hypnotic that they are also running special evening shows so the adults can delight in it without the presence of the little ones.

For those who just aren’t sure if a Dance Festival is their thing there are shows happening to whet the appetite. Smashed will be performing one free outdoor show in Dun Laoighre and Hyperactive – created by John Scott’s Irish Modern Dance Company – will take place in Wolfe Tone Square and features five male dancers with very varied professional backgrounds coming together to create a human dance installation. Meanwhile the performance I am most looking forward to in the festival also happens to be free. Bodies in Urban Spaces takes the audience on a moving trail through some of Dublin’s best known streets and landmarks as 20 local dancers create colourful installations along the way. This has been a huge hit everywhere it has been undertaken and Dubliners are sure to marvel in the spectacle as much as audiences in other countries have.

Of course this is a dance festival and for fans of the medium there are plenty of pure dance shows on offer. Name The Next Song by Swedish collective Andersson Dance, El Pliegue/Bruit de Couloir (running as a double bill) and Tundra show the medium at it’s most creative and expressive.

There are also workshops and talks throughout the festival with many of the shows running post performance discussions at some point during their run. There is also a Dance on Film Video Installation taking place in Rua Red Gallery and a screening ballet documentary Rain in the IFI.

This is one of the most exciting programmes I have ever known them to launch. Festival director Julia Carruthers admitted that it was harder to secure funding this year than previous years but they have still managed to put together a truly impressive programme against the odds. Here’s to the next 10 years.

This years Dublin Dance Festival runs from 20-31 May 2014 and full details and tickets are available from www.dublindancefestival.ie

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