'CREATE DANCE' LIVE CHRISTMAS ZOOM CLASS ... We finished off our dance year with a very special Create Dance Zoom Class last Saturday, with one of our facilitators Mark Rogers giving a LIVE class from Draíocht's Studio - And what a Christmas joy it was.
We had 11 of our participants join us live over two classes and we all danced our little Santa socks off! Mams, Dads and siblings were dragged up to dance too - there was no escape for anyone, as Mark put us all through our paces.
We can't wait to see you all again in the New Year, hopefully back in Draíocht with real live classes. But if we have to wait a little longer to be dancing in a room together, we will continue to support you all with pre-recorded video & zoom classes, as we have been doing all year. Happy Christmas Everyone! We miss you all!
Create Dance is a core part of Draíocht’s programming. Now in its 8th year, it's a fun, innovative dance project, where our young dancers, with a variety of intellectual disabilities and abilities, love to dance and move. Two groups of children with intellectual disabilities from the downs syndrome and autism spectrum, their parents and siblings have taken part in this innovative dance project through a series of weekly workshops since 2013, with an overwhelmingly positive response.
Coming on 15 January 2021 ... Chance to Dance, a film project with our Dance Artist in Residence 2020 Jess Rowell, having worked all year with our Create Dance members and members from Traces Dance Ensemble. A film that explores and captures the power of communication through movement and the exchange of gestures between dancers in space and on camera. Directed by Jess Rowell and captured by film artist Conor Donelan.
The final stage of filming took place last week on our main stage with Draíocht’s Dance Artist in Residence Jess Rowell and dancer Brian McSweeney via zoom, from Theatre Royal in Waterford.
A new collaborative dance work, originally created for stage recently adapted for film, as part of Jess Rowell’s Dance Residency at Draíocht 2020. A short film featuring dance artist and project director Jess Rowell and Brian McSweeney a dancer with Down syndrome, from Traces Dance Ensemble Co. Waterford, with an original sound score written by Dublin based composer Stefan French, filmed by film artist Conor Donelan, with lighting design by Eamon Fox. The work explores and celebrates the unique 13 year movement relationship between Jess and Brian and their shared passion for dance.
This collaboration between Jess, Brian and composer Stefan began earlier this year and was due to be performed live as part of ‘Threads’, an evening of live dance performance and film, focusing on disability and inclusiveness in arts practice. ‘Threads’ would have included the premiere of ‘Chance to Dance’, a film featuring members of ‘Create Dance’ Draíocht’s special needs dance programme, and marked the completion of Jess Rowell’s dance residency at Draíocht in late November.
During the initial stages of rehearsal for ‘Between Us There Is…’ new government restrictions were announced which meant that rehearsals could not go ahead in person. Despite these roadblocks, rehearsals were moved online with the support of the technical team at Draíocht. Jess, composer Stefan and project mentor Libby Seward worked from Draíocht and Brian attended the devising sessions via Zoom from a dance studio in Waterford. This enforced distance between the dancers began to inspire the theme of the work in very interesting ways. After further restrictions were announced in October Jess made the decision to continue the project virtually and adapt the existing work, making ‘Between Us There Is…’ into a dance film. The film captures the beauty of distance, connectivity and the unique movement relationship between two dancers.
We are very grateful to Theatre Royal in Waterford for hosting Brian during the project's final days of filming.
‘Between Us There Is…’ and ‘Chance to Dance’ will premiere online for public viewing in January 2021.
Jess Rowell’s Dance Residency was supported by The Arts Council, with additional funding provided by Fingal County Council.
21st-25th September - Research & Development Week for Dance Artist in Residence Jess Rowell at Draíocht
R&D week for ‘Between Us There Is…’ which will premiere at ‘Threads’ an evening of dance, music and film focusing on disability and inclusiveness in arts practice on November 20th & 21st at Draíocht. ‘Threads’ will mark the completion of Jess’s residency and will also feature the premier of Create Dance’s film ‘Chance to Dance’ and a live performance by guest dance artist and Artistic Director of Croí Glan, Tara Brandel.
‘Between Us There Is….’
A week full of generosity, openness, flexibility and ingenuity. The main focus of our time together was for myself, dancer Brian Mc Sweeney, composer Stefan French and mentor Libby Seward to settle into our collaboration. We instantly established a harmonious working interaction and rhythm. We listened, explored, witnessed and responded in the most sensitive of ways.
Although this week was the first time I met Stefan in person it truly felt as if we’d worked together before. There was sensitivity, understanding and openness in our dialogue. Our creative preparation and musical theme discussions over the past few months really paid off, enabling a very productive week on all levels. The various musical themes discussed prior to the week were inspired by aspects of my movement relationship with Brian.
Growing, creating and moving with Brian over the past twelve years has been an incredible experience, we have a deep movement bond and share a passion for dance. It is such a pleasure to be creating a piece of work acknowledging our movement relationship.
In conversation with Brian I asked him how he felt when he’s dancing. He replied with “Electricity”, “Let it go – like the rain falling down from the sky”, “Back to being myself / ourselves again”.
On this occasion our interaction has been informed and influenced by the times we are moving through. This enforced distance has influenced my creative vision and I have explored ways for us to embody that space in a tangible way.
Stefan and I worked together with mentor Libby in Draíocht studio for the first half of the week. Brian was unable to join us in person for the first 3 days, however with the help of the wonderful technical team at Draíocht, a zoom link, a projector and the cyc, he was very much present in the space. Libby stood in for Brian in the studio at times which helped me to get a physical sense of the duet as it evolved. Brian’s virtual presence and his ‘can do’ attitude were tangible at all times – even at a distance. I feel the themes took on an even more powerful significance with this enforced separation.
As the week progressed, the space between us as two bodies moving in space, the distance, connection, ripples was present in my mind. Ideas began to emerge of how the lighting design could enhance the sense of distance and boundaries in a shared space by the interplay of light dividing the performance space.
For the second half of the week Libby and I joined Brian in a separate studio where we began expanding our online choreographic ideas. Stefan stayed connected with us and continued to work from his home studio sending us on music files to inspire our movement creation.
Throughout the week interesting lighting design, staging plans and costume ideas began to emerge. Our creative process was documented daily with video recordings and reports written by our mentor Libby. Film artist Conor Donelan joined us for a day to capture raw footage of the rehearsal room in action and some publicity shots that will be used to document the residency and promote ‘Threads’ on Nov 20th & 21st at Draíocht.
All in all our first week in the studio was a wonderfully satisfying and creatively rich experience, which is reflected in the work produced. Huge thanks to the creative team and all at Draíocht for the continued support and to our funders Fingal County Council and The Arts Council for making this possible.
‘Threads’ - Guest artist update:
‘UNSEEN’ by guest dance artist and Co Artistic Director of Croí Glan Tara Brandel.
Last week Tara was also immersed in her own R&D week at Ballina Arts Centre.
An ongoing research project by abstract painter and environmental artist Stacey White, and contemporary dancer Tara Brandel.
Drawing on research into plankton (a life giving microscopic organism that produces 50% of the world's oxygen), Unseen looks at benevolent and less benevolent invisible forces and the unseen. (A hidden disability. An invisible virus. A life giving microscopic organism). Layering video projection, movement, sound and painting, Unseen reveals that which is invisible.
‘Threads’ - Chance to Dance update:
‘Chance to Dance’ with Jess Rowell & film artist Conor Donelan
Our dance film project with Draíocht’s Create Dance members featuring dancers from Traces Dance Ensemble Co. Waterford continues online through weekly emails. Each participant receives a new creative task each week from Jess. Last week Brian McSweeney introduced himself ‘virtually’ to all the participants and we are awaiting their individual video responses. We are gearing up for the final stage of filming with the participants live in Draíocht in mid-October. All the footage we have compiled over the past few months will feature in the final film ‘Chance to Dance’. A film which explores and captures the power of communication through movement and the exchange of gestures between dancers in space and on camera.
‘Threads’ Triple Bill - Novemeber 20th & 21st at Draíocht - tickets on sale soon.
Jess Rowell’s Residency is supported by Fingal County Council and The Arts Council.
Jess Rowell – Sharing the Journey
MARCH - NOVEMBER 2020
Brian McSweeney & Jess Rowell - Traces (Garter Lane Theatre 2016)
Jess Rowell, Draíocht’s Dance Artist in Residence 2020, has found innovative and exciting ways of moving forward with her residency this year. This dance residency responds to our 2018-2022 Strategy ‘Space for the Arts’, in particular our commitment to expand equality of access to more children.
Jess has a specialism in working with children, young people and artists with an intellectual disability. So far this year she has been facilitating and supporting members of Draíocht's 'Create Dance' project, our special needs dance programme, in a new film project ‘Chance to Dance’. The film explores and captures the power of communication through movement and the exchange of gestures between dancers in space and on camera.
Jess and film artist Conor Donelan have been running this project online to date and are due to move into the final phase of filming live in Draíocht during October.
Throughout the coming months Jess will continue to develop her own professional practice, work with other professionals in the same field, and build on a magical partnership with dancer Brian McSweeney, a dance artsit with Down syndrome of Traces Dance Ensemble. She is currently devising a new collaborative work with Brian and Dublin based composer Stefan French with mentorship from Libby Seward. This collaboration will premier live at ‘Threads’ an evening of dance, music and film focusing on disability and inclusiveness in arts practice on November 20th & 21st 2020 at Draíocht. ‘Threads’ will mark the completion of Jess’ residency and will also feature the premier of Create Dance’s film ‘Chance to Dance’ and a live performance by quest dance artist and Artistic Director of Croí Glan, Tara Brandel. More info on this to come.
Some of the overarching aims of Jess’ residency are to:
- Expand on Draíocht’s relationship with artists of all disciplines, nurturing collaborative exchanges between artists, young people and the community.
- Be at the forefront of the dialogue around dance and disability in Ireland.
- Create ‘Chance to Dance’ a short film capturing the power of communication through movement. Engaging and communicating with young dancers online and in Draíocht throughout the year.
- Offer principal dancer Brian McSweeney, a creative role in the research and development phase of a new collaborative work, thereby supporting his professional development.
Jess Rowell’s Residency is supported by Fingal County Council and The Arts Council.