Dancer from the Dance – Project Arts Centre – Review
by Frank L
Dates: 02 – 03 Jul at 7.30
Dancer from the Dance – Festival of Irish Choreography – Curated by John Scott
The indefatigable John Scott not only curated this festival but also performs solo in Heroes. The festival takes place over two nights, with six pieces on Tuesday night and seven on Wednesday, of which three are repeats. The stage is bare, apart from some chairs and an occasional image projected onto the back wall, lighting is used to create atmosphere and variety. Four of the pieces were intriguing.
The first piece was disarmingly simple as Liam O Scanlain, both the choreographer and performer, walked onto the stage dressed in mundane attire, a mixture of blue and black, with a pair of brown shoes. He talked about sean nos from a dance perspective and as he did so his feet began to mark complex rhythms. His easy talk complemented the movements of his feet. After a while he was joined by David Doocey who operated a laptop which enabled O Scanlain to demonstrate the multifaceted nature of his feet movements to a variety of musical types. Doocey then spoke about his journey into fiddle playing from Worcester, Massachusetts before he and O Scanlain combined in a performance authentic, captivating and joyous.
They were followed by a solo performance by 26 years old, Mufutau Yusuf, which he himself choreographed. He was born in Nigeria but has been part of the Irish dance scene since 2011. He too is dressed in every day attire but barefooted. There is background noise of traffic and perhaps an open air market. It is in this world that he moves. His ability to make rapid movements with great energy yet switch to small delicate gestures in an instant is a talent he has developed into a high art form. The performance at times requires the entire stage as he moves from the vertical to the horizontal with breathtaking rapidity. He is mesmeric.
The third item was John Scott in his indomitable self as dancer and “ein Heldentenor” in Heroes (excerpts). He is a man of substantial size but he called for members of the audience to sit on the stage. They looked like disciples seated around a beloved guru but Scott transformed them by the end into a chorus. He created surprisingly rapid and skilful movements as he charged around the stage. From time to time he burst out into an operatic aria as the performance headed towards the denouement which was the end of Act 1 of Wagner’s “Die Walkure” where he sang not only the part of Siegmund but at the same time managed to be the oak tree. This was a unique combination of opera and dance. It was bursting with joyous energy.
The final piece of the evening “Almost Blue” choreographed by Oonagh Doherty combined a solo dancer (Steve Batts) and a trumpeter (John Walsh). They at the beginning are sitting as if they were on a bench in a park. Batts begins to move as if inspired by some spirit in his head. After a time he is joined by the trumpeter. Together, they perform on stage a sequence that might have been a sophisticated busking routine in a park carried out by a dancer of maturity and a trumpeter.
Overall, the evening demonstrated that the art of dance in Ireland is thriving and doing so in many diverse ways. The festival continues tonight at the Project Arts Centre.