This is an Irish Dance – Project Arts Centre – Review
08 February 2017-11 February 2017 7.30pm
At the start of this piece, the two performers come onto the stage and sit on a white box. A spotlight shines down upon them while the rest of the stage is in darkness. The two sit in quiet contemplation. The moments pass and the audience grows into this sense of calm. These few quiet moments set the tone for this unusual offering.
This is the work of dancer and choreographer Jean Butler and the Belfast-based cellist Neil Martin. Before I went to this production, I assumed that the cello was accompanying the dance. That it was played to allow the dancer to perform, but this is not the case. It is described as a duet and that is much closer to the truth, as they are equal partners on stage. At times, Martin plays the cello alone while Butler sits and listens. At other times, Butler dances alone without accompaniment. For the most part, the two artists interact, the music sparking off the dance and vice versa. There is no clear leader between the two.
The set is almost barren, with a wooden floor, a couple of white boxes and a bench to one side. There are a variety of jagged white tiles, scattered like debris at the back of the stage. The lighting remains constant, only changing between the movements. It has the feel of a wasteland, a quiet space that these two souls have ventured into.
The cello is played with a bow, but also plucked and played like a drum. The piece is not scared of voids and there are many pauses between the moments of graceful motion and playing. Bulter’s motion is fluid, reflecting the music and with much upper body movement. It is quite far removed from the world of traditional Irish dance, for which she is known. There is a loose and free feel to the choreography. This piece blends the two art forms to create something quite original.
Choreography and performance Jean Butler
Composition and performance Neil Martin
Design Frank Conway
Lighting Design Michael Cummins
Costume Jean Butler
Rehearsal Assistant Kristyn Fontanella
Set Construction Michael and Milo Cummins
Production Manager Michael Cummins
Production Coordinator Barry McKinney
Publicity Stephanie Dickenson