Interview with Emma Martin – Night Dances – Dublin Theatre Festival

Interview with Emma Martin – Night Dances – Dublin Theatre Festival

We had the chance to put some questions to choreographer Emma Martin about her new production Night Dances which opens at the National Stadium next week. You can see the results below.

You can find out more about Emma’s company United Fall here.

Created by Emma Martin with music by Daniel Fox (Girl Band)
Venue – The National Stadium
Date(s) 13-16 Oct, 9pm
Online Versions – Live Stream 15 Oct – On Demand 16-23 Oct

The worlds of dance and rock/ alternative music are very different. Is the idea of the production to bridge the gap in some way? Maybe to get some people who go to live music and to take a chance and see a dance production? 

Personally, I enjoy heavy bassy music, and for years have used it in the studio (including Girl Band’s music, and a wide array of diverse music) as a driving force from which I create dances, even if it was performed to other music onstage. Most of my work has been created and performed with live music and I feel very comfortable and at home working with musicians. I also enjoy the ‘aliveness’ of live performance.

So this time I wanted to put that energy source front and centre- inviting Daniel to collaborate and make music that demands to be danced to. It sort of felt like I had been collaborating with him already by the time we started making Night Dances.

I don’t really think the 2 worlds are so far away from each other, actually, we’ve found that writing music and making choreography share a lot in common…it’s about groove, flow, rhythm and disruption. They’re both forms of energy and modes of expression. So if the audience is coming just for the music that’s cool too.

Tell me about your first contact with Daniel Fox (Girl Band). How did you get in contact and what was his reaction?

I’d been listening to Girl band for a few years and in November 2019 I emailed him and asked if he’d be interested in making music for a show, so we met and I shared the idea and he was into it, which made me happy!

Did you tell him the type of music you wanted for the production? Did you give him any constraints or guidance? 

No constraints except that it should brutal and unapologetic. I sent him a few things I had been listening to that sort of encapsulated the feeling of some of the parts, and he sent me some samples and rough drafts of stuff, but it was mostly when we got together in the rehearsal room, also with Brian Dillon (synths and keys) and Jamie Hyland (drum machine) that the dance and music just came together pretty easily.

I love that you say the work was “Choreographed in collaboration with the dancers”. How much of the work is finished before you go into the studio with the dancers and how much is evolved over time? 

I might have a few phrases and bits of dance sketched out before I go in, a playlist of music to warm up to and improvise with, a scrapbook of images, random youtube clips…the first few days involve a good bit of improvising and embodying images and ideas, bit by bit putting bits and pieces together and building group stuff together. I think it’s important to credit the dancers, because their ideas, improvisations, personal contributions and even how they interpret my movement are essential to the evolution and creation of the piece. All my work is very collaborative and I work with particular dancers because of their unique style and I know what their flavour will bring to the overall work.

People involved in the arts have suffered more than most due to the lockdown. How have the last 18 months been for you?

Up and down. A lot of almost getting to put on performances and then having to cancel at the last minute. A lot of uncertainty and trying to keep ideas alive. But also a lot of time to consider how fortunate I am to be working at something I love, which puts things in perspective.

Night Dances – Dublin Theatre Festival
Venue – The National Stadium
Date(s) 13-16 Oct, 9pm
Online Versions – Live Stream 15 Oct – On Demand 16-23 Oct

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