Delving at Dublin Dance Festival [Day 2] - Fast Track to Dance Programme
On the 21st, 27th and 28th of May two ISACS artists Ria Murphy of Aerial Cirque and Severine De Maleingrau of Sevesfeathers were selected to discover shows and events of the Dublin Dance Festival as part of ISACS DELVE professional development programme supported by Arts Council Ireland.
Delve into the first day of #Delve17 Dublin Dance Festival programme by reading the first blog post of the series Delving at Dublin Dance Festival [Day 1] - Top 8 Hip Hop Battle and read on to delve into the second day of their journey!
Discover the Fast Track to Dance Programme
Dublin Dance Festival popular FAST TRACK programme in collaboration with Live Collision was back for its fifth successive year. If you haven’t seen much dance but are curious to explore what it’s all about, then this is the perfect way to start.
On Saturday 27 May, the Live Collision team immersed our two delvers Ria Murphy of Aerial Cirque and Severine De Maleingrau of Sevesfeathers in a jam-packed day of dance that took them right to the heart of the 2017 Festival. They attended shows, meet Festival artists and engaged in discussions about what they’ve seen in facilitated group sessions with other fast trackers, all as part of our D.E.L.V.E.* programme in partnership with the festival. Then they meet back the next day for a debrief and a coffee, followed by a Sunday afternoon dance film screening. This is a great opportunity for anyone who’s keen to develop a critical eye and learn more about the artform. It’s fun and it’s FAST!
“Displacement” by Mithkal Alzghair - Delvers reviews
Severine De Maleingrau of Sevesfeathers
My takeaway points: musicality comes from rhythm, not music. “If you want to tell reality, strip it down. Don’t add anything, stay close”. Let the audience wonder; you told your story. Clarify your intention.
“Displacement” studies the Syrian body in the context of war, immigration, and revolution through traditional dances. While repeating patterns until exhaustion, choreographer and performer Alzghair and his two co-performers look right into the audience’s eyes, “with no hope, because we are fighting”. It’s a “manifestation of humanity” with no music, yet the musicality is astounding. Strip reality down if you want it to shine bright.
In the post-show talk, Alzghair smiling reluctance to present us with an explanation of his work prompted us, Fast-Trackers, to question our desperate need to impose meaning onto the art work, with a view to matching our cultural biases and preconceptions. “A white sheet is just a white sheet. Or it can be many things”. “I wanted to have just three bodies on stage, to see what they could do”. There were so many evocative layers to his work, so many possible interpretations, that some of us thought the choreographer must have craftily thought everything out. But Alzghair’s words left me with the impression that, while his stunning craft comes from a clear and genuine place of vision, he decidedly stayed closer to its rawness than we are tempted to believe. It makes me wonder about the limits of artists’ control and responsibility towards the reception of their work. Does it matter? As an artist, if your work contains a political or social element, it seems logical to expect you would care. However, maybe you would care more about the audience understanding your intention –your manifestation- rather than the audience dissecting every symbol you may or may not have intended to use.
Ria Murphy of Aerial Cirque
One of the most memorable pieces I attended was Mithkal Alzghair’s Displacement, followed by a post-show discussion with the three performers. This piece is described as examining “the body in the context of war, migration and revolution. Drawing from traditional Syrian folk dances, he offers a striking reflection on the experience of fleeing and the uncertainty of life in exile.” The aesthetic of the show was fairly simplistic with no set, the removal of some bare costume pieces, and one white sheet as a prop. Given the context of war and the subject of peoples being displaced, having to leave their acquired belongings behind, this minimalism was well suited. It was as if to say, in times like these, all we have is ourselves, our bodies. The piece opened with a solo by Mithkal Alzghair’s, which we later learned was the acorn from which the entire show grew. As all foundations should be, this was the strongest piece of the show. Despite the repetitive traditional folk inspired movements drawing the viewer in as if in a rhythmic, physical chant, it was Mithkal’s Alzghair’s emotional eyes that seared through something which could have easily fallen mundane. Given the provocative title of the piece and the creator’s ethnicity, one can’t help but link the piece to the current refugee crisis in Syria. Whether this is a fabrication of the audience or the author’s intention, it is nonetheless the result and so Alzghair’s eyes seem to seek out our humanity as he both searched for individual connections and looked pass us at the world beyond making us bare witness.
“Extraterrestrial Events” by Company Philip Connaughton - Delver review
Severine De Maleingrau of Sevesfeathers
My takeaway points: be bold, don’t compromise your vision or your sensitivity. Add or subtract elements, notice the changes of dynamics, if any. Create space and gaps for the audience to fill.
Soprano Kim Sheehan and composer Michael Gallen fill the room with rare musicality, only to be contrasted by the mundane quality of her lyrics, inspired by real UFO sightings reports, and a seemingly disconnected choreography impeccably performed by four stunning dancers. Choreographer Philip Connaughton casually walks on stage, sits down and does nothing. There is grunting, gagging, blue liquid drooling and carrot eating. Nothing seems to make sense… Until the patterns emerge. Something equally sweet and frightening connects the dancers and the singer, excluding him. We need Connaughton to be there and do nothing, so we can notice. Discussing patterns and possible meanings with my fellow Fast-Trackers proved as hilarious as it was challenging. Disgust, anger, unease, curiosity, sense of wonder, disappointment, surprise… Provoking, to say the least. Personally, I thought the dancers might be a manifestation of her mind. Sometimes helpers, facilitators. Sometimes, her hell. I thought maybe she has to sing trivial details with such lyricism because that is what you do when you feel so deeply. That is what you do when you desperately try to make sense of a reality that overwhelms your senses and challenges your reason. “The truth is out there… or is it?” What do you trust? Your senses or your reason? Your feelings or socially-imposed norms? I love that Connaughton never completely confirms –never fills the gaps, so the story can live on.
“Striptease” by Pere Faura - Delver review
Severine De Maleingrau of Sevesfeathers
My takeaway points: Clarify your intention. What is the artist’s responsibility?
Choreographer and performer Fauna breaks down Demi Moore’s iconic routine from the movie “Striptease”, lecturing us about the mechanisms of desire and seduction in an engaging multimedia performance mixing elements of theatre, dance and video. There is a camera on stage, pointing at us. We are not quite sure if it is recording; the doubt keeps us on edge, guessing what’s coming next. Fauna, an equally mischievous and generous performer, analyses the social construct of eroticism in the art of undressing with hilarious wit and incredible energy. He talks to us a lot. At us. The comfortable separation between performer and audience is broken and nobody feels safe anymore. We are asked to take position: “What are you looking at during a striptease? What are you looking for?” Anticipation or reality? Fauna asks compelling questions. Some important questions are however ignored. As a male performer, why did he choose a routine performed by a female? What are the implications of such a choice on the questions he asks us? Are male and female bodies treated and perceived the same way in striptease performances? How does the context of the striptease –a theatre, a dance festival, a club, a bar- impact the performance and its perception? Was it even Fauna’s intention to send our thoughts in that direction? It brought my attention to the importance of dramaturgical and scenography choices. It raised again the question of the artist’s responsibility to clarify their intention, especially when engaging with a social or political content. What are the extents and limits of such responsibility? In conclusion, Fauna’s captivating and clever performance felt like a genius but rather short introduction to a more complex discussion.