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Initially, I did have reservations. I was aware that contemporary dance and the
choreographic process were unknown to the young participants, their parents and
some of the partners. I was afraid that, before they could experience the rewards,
the hard work, concentration and commitment needed might prove too much for
the participants. And of course, just as with every new piece, there were a number
of nagging questions: Would it work? Would it say something? Would it be worth it?
Looking back, key factors to the project’s success were in place practically from the
start. First off, we were lucky enough to have a group of dedicated individuals
behind the project, supported by their organisations. Their diverse interests
intersected in a positive way. They were committed to representing the best
interests of those they were responsible for. They were willing to negotiate. There
was a strong network of communication between the different partners, which
ensured that everyone’s needs could be expressed and listened to.
Defining partners’ roles was a vital, ongoing, negotiation. As the Artist in the
Community, my primary role was choreographer and director of the performance
project but I also had many other roles. Fiona Delaney also had multiple roles. As
animator and creative partner, she initiated and co-developed the artistic theme.
She introduced visual art and landscape architecture tools to the participants and
provided research information on North Clondalkin. She used drawings, sketches
and photographs of the young dancers to help create a visual art resource in the
form of and their local environments, as ‘commissioned’ by them. These appeared
as foyer exhibitions complementary to the performances. In addition she facilitated
the collaboration between the partner organisations, promoted secondary
collaborations, fund-raised, and fulfilled production and promotion roles.
Photo credit: Between Earth Sky and Home, Ríonach Ní Néill. Video Still – Joe Lee.
It was also important to ensure effective liaison between groups. Marie Carey, Youth
Arts Development Officer, Ronanstown Youth Service, was the main contact
between the young people, their parents and the other participants. Maria
McCormack, dance tutor RYS Kreate participated both as performer and support
tutor. This meant that the project would complement the on-going RYS Kreate
dance programme and it had the benefit of ensuring a longer-term impact of the
project and a continuum within the young peoples’ dance practice. Marie would be
able to utilise the new dance and choreographic techniques in her work with the
club after the project ended. Elisabetta Bisaro, as a dance support specialist,
brought on board the dance artists, negotiated a balance between the needs of the
host community group and the professional dance artist. She also provided support
and assistance to the creative partners.
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