Amú/Cótaí Dearga are two short dance pieces, each about half an hour in length that were presented as part of the Dublin Dance Festival, in the Civic Theatre on May 28th for one night only.
Amú is a solo dance piece by Robert Jackson, which uses film and sound bites. The dancer is on stage as the lights go up, standing barefoot in unusual garb for a dancer. He looks more like an office worker in blue shirt, jumper and pants. There is a length of black fabric on one side of the stage and white on the other. The fabric runs along the floor and then up to a rail hanging high above the stage.
According to the associated text, the piece references the work of artist William Utermohlen, poet John Killick and the HSE, and is a meditation on loss and resilience, although in truth you would be doing well to work this out for yourself. The piece stands easily in its own right and is unnerving and unsettling.
At the opening of the performance, Jackson dances without music accompaniment, with only the sound of his breathing. At another times he performers over sounds of voices or of nature and occasionally instruments. His movements are harsh and deliberately lack fluidity, as he explores unusual poses and stances. These are awkward and at times almost look disjointed, but this adds to the drama and the visual appeal.
Cótaí Dearga is quite a different work, with two female dancers performing in loose and playful form. The dancers wear traditional coloured clothes from the Aran islands, with red skirts and black tops. There is a projection on the back wall of the theatre of a cliff top, with strong grey stone. The movements start small and build as the dancers move to explore different forms. The programme notes explain that the piece is an imagining of a mask ceremony, drawing a link between the shamanistic traditions and that of the Aran Islands.
After the initial sequence, the two dancers pull their skirts over their heads, to form unusual shapes. They use their clothing with great creativity to adapt to a number of different guises, appearing like nuns at times and wild beasts at others.