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Together fourteen dancers from Ronanstown Youth Service Kreate, and the four The performance element took place in two stages between October 2007 and
professional dance artists engaged in the research, creation and interpretation of April 2008. Preliminary workshops were held monthly from October to December.
the work. The professionals had to act as role models, disciplinarians, teachers and The RYS team familiarised themselves by attending a company performance of my
mentors because of the unique situation. They were supporting and collaborating work. This was also a way of introducing them to a theatre environment. From
with uninitiated young artists. They also had to ensure physical safety during January full cast rehearsals took place once weekly in Clondalkin. The young
rehearsals and performance. For all four professional dancers, this process also dancers were split into two age groups. There were three days a week rehearsals for
included learning to renegotiate their well known physical language and terrain, the professional dancers. We had two one-week intensives at the spring half-term
which was made unfamiliar by the young peoples’ testing of it. and Easter break, ending with the three public performances at the Civic and Axis
Theatres in April 2008.
The key aim was to create a professional standard work within a specific context. It
was important that the partners agreed that my role of Artist in the Community The details of their daily lives became the focus of the work, inspired in part by the
was creative artist rather than educator. I wanted the young people to see statement by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. “Even a minor event in the life
themselves, and to be seen, as fellow artists. Recognising their relative inexperience, of a child is an event in that child’s world and therefore a world event”. The concept
the professional dancers and myself would share our skills and experience with the driving the project was to find a non-linear insight into the relationship between
younger artists to facilitate their artistic expression, but always with the focus young people and their local/home urban environment. Thus they were guided
towards our creative goal together, as a company. I aimed to locate the project in into reflecting on their environment and translating these reflections into a stand-
the context of a professional dance work integrating non-trained artists. I was alone art work. We introduced the participants to tools from various areas – visual
inspired and influenced by different models such as John Scott’s Irish Modern arts, environmental psychology, landscape architecture and dance to help draw out
Dance Theatre work with asylum seekers and Liz Lerman’s Dance Exchange work subjective and emotional relationships with the locale, and provide outlets for
with non- professional dancers. Ken Loach’s use of first-time actors in his films was expressing aspirations. Our aim was to see that which had become unseen in its
also an inspiration. familiarity, and to bypass pre-conceptions and stereotypes of Clondalkin already
becoming entrenched in the minds of its young residents.
My work as a choreographer is inspired by an engagement with human and social
issues. Most recently I have been considering key questions: Where does dance come Various exercises were used to help them draw mental and physical maps of their
from?’ ‘Who can dance?’ About what? For whom? Whose dance may be seen? The locale, tracing their daily journeys and hangouts. They redrew local landscapes as
project contained a number of elements which would provide an interesting they would prefer to see them. The results differed greatly, ranging from giant
challenge to the development of my artistic practice. In particular I was excited bunnies bouncing around the electricity pylons to envisaging branches of Penneys
about the possibility of integrating professional and non-vocational dancers in my and McDonalds opening in Neilstown shopping centre. They also explored other
work and of reconciling my dance and urban geography backgrounds. Integrating guided visualisations, sketching and verbalising dreamscapes, and making aural
vocational and non-vocational artists in my work for the first time also offered an compositions of local soundscapes. They composed their own personal versions of
opportunity to gain a new performance and choreographic palette. By situating the childhood rhyme of what boys and girls are made of and they also played ‘alien
my professional dance practice within a social context, I would also gain a greater place charades’ in which visual elements of the local landscape were described as if
diversity of experiences and knowledge to strengthen my professional seen for the first time. They also ‘commissioned’ Fiona to draw their homes, streets
development. and schools. The range of rich visual and textual material stimulated the physical
improvisation and compositions. The emotions that were revealed coloured the
choreography. Fundamental questions were revealed in the themes of the
performance. These included: how young people identified themselves, who with,
and how they connected, or didn’t, with their local environment.
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