Interview with Benjamin Perchet – Director of Dublin Dance Festival – Part One

Interview with Benjamin Perchet, Director of Dublin Dance Festival 18-28 May.

The Dublin Dance Festival opens on Thursday (May 18th). In the lead up to the festival, we had the chance to talk to Benjamin Perchet, director of the Festival. You can see the results below.

Is there any particular theme you’re looking to explore with your choices for the year’s festival?

The Festival assumes the need to constantly renew itself. This year, the programme melts highbrow dance with popular dance, sophistication with irreverence, abstraction with spoken-words, masterpieces from world-renowned choreographers with innovations from some cheeky creators. It embraces the idea of pleasure in contemporary work!

The programme brings together artists from diverse horizons and plays with the boundaries between people and artforms. Borders/ boundaries are made for crossing; aren’t they? Whether they’re cultural, political, geographical, aesthetic or philosophical.

It’s great to see Hip-Hop and Breakdancing featuring at the Festival. Is this a new departure?

My opinion is that urban culture misses recognition and audience, as well as a professionalization process in Ireland. I’m delighted that the Festival also contributes to the acknowledgement of urban culture in all its diversity as a true art-form from now.

The Top 8 Hip-Hop Dance Battle at Project Arts Centre is curated by Limerick-based dancer Tobi Omoteso. Participants will compete in Breaking, Hip-Hop, Krump and Under 16’s All style battles with live DJs and a graffiti artist. Dancers who wow the judges and the crowd will be chosen as this year’s Top 8 winners. There is no question that a battle requires high-level technique, but it also requires strong personality, assurance and charisma!

Actually, this will be the third edition of this hugely popular annual dance battle. But I’m particularly impatient to attend the event at Project Arts Centre, as an established and respected art venue. Some participants and viewers may enter the venue for the first time, it’s very exciting and challenging.

Betroffenheit will last long in my memory from last year’s festival for its nightmarish vision. What are the most unusual events at this year’s festival, the most off the wall?

If Dublin Dance Festival shall fill the audience with every imaginable example of the genre, also, it shall deliver a few that no one will expect. I’d say this year, THE ONE no one expects is Singspiele by celebrated French choreographer Maguy Marin. Its poetic force and radicality will doubtless leave some indelible traces on the collective imagination, long after its Irish premiere. In most of her previous work, the choreographer had already explored the issues of metamorphosis, crowds, and peculiarity. Singspiele is a piece for a single actor, as to enable the audience to see clearly while following characters that are always and never the same. Always, because there is only a single actor on stage portraying all the others down to each gesture. Never, because he switches from one outfit to the next, goes from old to young, celebrities to strangers, weak to strong, philosophers to athletes, male to female. All without uttering a word, to the plain jingle of life going by.

And if you’re a fan of traditional dance, what would you recommend?

I have no hesitation in recommending Colin Dunne’s new solo piece Concert, which is a Dublin Dance Festival commission and which opens the Festival as an Irish premiere. The piece is exploring traditional fiddle player Tommie Potts’ iconic 1972 album The Liffey Banks. I attended the premiere of the work in Paris in March, and I have to say it is the proof of Dunne’s wonderful maturity in the making of his art. He’s very sharp and the whole concept is so clever and subtle. His integrity and talent command respect and a total engagement from the audience.

The audience would also have the opportunity at DanceHouse to enjoy younger traditional Irish dancer Liam Scanlon (Dance Ireland Associate Artist), as well as sean-nós dancer Sibéal Davitt and traditional Irish step dancer Kristyn Fontanella. They are presenting their work-in-development as part of the First Looks programme.

Continues in Part two tomorrow…



Categories: Dance, Festivals, Gigs, Header, Theatre

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