Interview with David Bolger – CoisCéim Dance Theatre – Francis Footwork
Find out more about Francis Footwork here.
We had the chance to put some questions to David Bolger, artistic director of CoisCeim about his new production Francis Footwork. You can see the result below.
“David Bolger artistic director of CoisCéim Dance Theatre creates a brand new story for young people and adults alike, told through the language of dance, that envisages a world without being able to dance, and the Shero, Francis Footwork, who puts everything right”
Tell me about the story of Francis Footwork? Where did the idea come from?
The story centres around Francis Footwork, a young girl who was born to dance. Her kingdom is the dance floor. And in this kingdom, everybody dances. That is, until Francis finds herself in a bit of trouble when there is a total ban on all public and private dancing. Much unhappiness ensues for the entire kingdom, so Francis calls on her best friend – Music – to help to overcome the ban and restore happiness on the dance floor.
The idea started when I was watching a Youtube video, which I found rather upsetting. It depicted a group of people being forcibly removed by police officers for simply dancing at the Jefferson memorial. I started to research where dancing bans occur in the world and I imagined a whole world without dancing. What would that world look like and what would be the consequences!
Do you thinks it’s important to get kids into dance at an early age?
When we are infants we are quite proficient at communicating with our bodies. We learn to understand movement as a language. We learn rhythm from the heartbeat in the womb, and carry forward that sense of rhythm. When we grow a little older we have lots of energy and move and dance freely. To me it is important to facilitate dance to youngsters as much as possible. Dancing is a natural feeling, makes you feel stronger, happier and is hugely important for our development as adults. There is so much research recently about the benefits of dance for everybody. I think it is very important to allow children to dance. It improves communication skills and has only positive benefits in every aspect of our growing bodies and lives.
What age did you start dance lessons? Did you always love it?
I can remember being sent to Irish dance classes from the age of 7 or 8 years of age. Then I took tap dancing classes locally in Sandymount. When I was 16 years of age I started ballet and contemporary dance at Dublin City Ballet. When I left school, I knew that I wanted to be a dancer. I got my first professional job at the Gaiety Theatre, in Noel Pearson’s production of HMS Pinafore. This production became headline news when one of the actors walked off stage during a performance. Because of this, the production went on to open in the West End, at the Old Vic theatre. It was an incredible first professional job to get and I gained much experience from performing in the production.
What are the main differences between dance pieces for children and adults? Is there any difference to the dance itself, or just the story that surrounds it?
Francis Footwork will be my second work for younger audiences, the first being The Wolf and Peter. When I started working on these productions I began with the story, the dance and music. Over the years some of the best productions that I have ever seen are for younger audiences. It is a difficult task, as making work for a younger audience is challenging in that the audiences are vocal, which I adore, during the performances and can be brutally honest about the work. I like to layer my work so it can play to a 6 year old and hopefully an 80 year old. So I start the work with a question. What do I want to say and how do I want to say it? I was lucky with Francis Footwork to have opportunities to show some in-progress development to youths, both at The Ark’s Still Loading Festival and in CoisCéim studio, where I was able to get direct feedback. It is important to listen to youths. They are very smart and have a lot to say in the world.
Denis Clohessy is writing the music for this piece. When did he become involved with the production? Is the music finished before the choreography or what order does it happen?
Denis joined the production about six months ago as composer. I have worked with Denis several times in the past, so we have a shorthand when devising together. With Francis Footwork I choreographed before the music was composed. This is not my normal way of working, but with this story I was keen to let the dance be the driving force of creation. This just felt right for this as both the story of the main character and theme of the show is dance. Adding Denis Clohessy’s compositions starts to add a new layer and voice in the work. And I am enjoying the colour and texture that this process brings.
CoisCéim Dance Theatre premiere a new production FRANCIS FOOTWORK at Baboró International Arts Festival for Children (Oct 16 – 20) – also tours to Backstage Theatre, Longford (Oct 23 & 24) / Draíocht, Blanchardstown (Nov 5 & 6) / Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire (Nov 8 & 9) – coisceim.com