Celtronic Festival and Radio Foyle at Echo Echo Studios

Three fantastic collaborative events took place at Echo Echo Studios over the weekend as part of Celtronic 2016.

Electric Mainline and Ryan Vail at Echo Echo
Stephen McCauley presents Ryan Vail live in session at Echo Echo

First up was a live outside broadcast of BBC Radio Foyle’s weekly music show Electric Mainline with Stephen McCauley. Our downstairs area proved to be a perfect space for radio and the show featured live sessions and interviews with David Kitt, Ryan Vail, Phil Kieran, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Echo Echo Company Manager Ailbe Beirne, and Celtronic Festival Director Gareth Stewart.

You can listen back here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07hn9c5

Moving upstairs on Thursday evening, a packed house was treated to a stunning audio-visual performance by US synth producer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith playing the Buchla Music Easel, with support from local producer and dj Vincent O’Callaghan.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith live at Celtronic / Echo Echo
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith live at Celtronic / Echo Echo

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, we had the next generation of music fans and movers for Celtronic Kids in association with Surestart and Echo Echo Ensemble Artists – a brilliant session of play, creative movement and disco dancing. Huge thanks to all of the team involved in preparing the space and making this event such a success.

Celtronic Kids at Echo Echo Studios
Celtronic Kids at Echo Echo Studios

The next live music event at Echo Echo Studios takes place this Saturday 9th July as part of Music City 2016 when we welcome Overhead, The Albatross and RSAG to play an early evening gig. All welcome. See link for further details: http://echoechodance.com/whatson/overhead-the-albatross-rsag-music-city-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement 2016 – Open Call now open

Images from Echo Echo Festival Open Call 2015 by Living Witness

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is pleased to announce an open call for short works to be performed in the fourth edition of the Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement in November 2016.

We are looking for short performances which will be part of a mixed programme on the evenings of 18th and 19th November 2016. We plan that the programme will be the same for both of these nights.

Echo Echo Festival will provide some travel expenses and accommodation for minimum three nights.

Proposed works should be not more than 15 minutes in length. We are happy to consider first performances, performances of work that has already been shown before, proposals for improvisation scores, projection/video work and other kinds of performance.

We don’t have any restriction on style or idiom but we are generally interested in work that is in some way consonant with, or an interesting challenge to, Echo Echo’s practice of poetic movement.

We are interested in proposals from artists with whom we already have a relationship and from artists new to Echo Echo. We like to approach all our invitees as colleagues with whom we may develop an ongoing creative relationship.

It may be possible for Echo Echo to offer a residency at our home studios to facilitate the making of new work or in developing previously performed work for the Open Call performance evenings. We can’t offer money but we can offer space and some technical/creative support. Sometimes we can help with accommodation by finding people to host artists in residence.

This is the fourth edition of Echo Echo’s international festival of dance and movement. In each previous year we have had a wonderful mix of work in our open call evenings. This has ranged from solos to sextets, from minimalist to highly theatrical, from improvisation scores to highly detailed set work, and from pieces of less than 5 minutes to pieces that have stretched our 15 minute limit a little. We are always open to the idea that artists whose work has been shown in the open call may be invited back to Echo Echo for longer residencies and/or to perform a full programme at a later festival.

We encourage you to send us the information on your proposal in the form that makes most sense to you. This could include biographical detail, written descriptions, working process, photographs, links to video recordings of work proposed and/or previous work (please don’t attach videos to email however small the file may be and if possible please send a link for streaming rather than for download). We feel that short “promo clips” of pieces are generally a very poor way to understand a piece of work so if you send a link to one of those please also consider sending a link to a video recording of the full piece as well. Please send as much material as you think is necessary to represent your proposal well, but do remember that we have limited time and we receive a very large number of them, so being realistically concise is very helpful for us.

For information on previous editions of the festival please visit our website www.echoechodance.com and search in “projects”.

Please send us your proposal by email to steve@echoechodance.com  and also cc it to info@echoechodance.com. Closing date is 31st July 2016.

Echo Echo Festival is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

 

Open Call PDF

http://echoechodance.com/uploads/file/EchoEchoFestival2016-OpenCall.pdf

 

 

 

WALK BY – Images and audience feedback

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The first performances of Walk By took place last weekend at Echo Echo Studios.

Big thanks to everyone involved and especially to all of the performers from Body Wisdom, Echo Echo Ensemble and participants in Echo Echo Kids Classes (and their parents too).

We received some wonderful feedback from audiences. Here is a short selection:

“Enjoyed contact improvisation most – the combination of old, young, amateur and professionals. The stillness and anticipation of the next movement”

“Enjoyed the cross section of diverse performers and personal expression styles allowed within the piece; music was a nice platform indeed“

“Beautiful precision and recreational work; some magic moments; All ensemble fully engaged and skillful; powerful build-up of intensity with music”

“Beautiful and Organic – Loved watching”

“A Walk, A Dream, A Reality”

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“Fascinating, thought provoking, energising”

“Poetic, Dreamlike, moving, funny, entertaining, puzzling, great!”

“The fact that non-professional dancers performed with the ensemble. It was a constant feeling of care through-out that people gave of themselves in this way! Loved the children, adored the music”

“Amazing. Really enjoyed it. Very Moving. Peaceful”

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“I really enjoyed today’s performance. I didn’t know what to expect, but could relate to certain things within it”

“Amazing. So much energy and creativity”

“Extraordinary and Creative”

“It was lovely performance and both groups really complimented each other lovely”

“Beauty of the movement. The intergenerational aspect to the piece seeing development of Body Wisdom – wow! Can’t believe how far they have come”

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Thanks to Living Witness Productions for the beautiful images.

Walk By – an introduction from Steve Batts

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Walk By

Walk By is the first time that Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company has created a full length performance which includes the Body Wisdom group, participants from our Children’s Classes and dancers from the Echo Echo Ensemble. The piece is truly made from our hearts.

Walk By is a rehearsed improvisation. This might sound a bit paradoxical but every live performance has some element of newness, creation, interpretation in the “live moment” and every performance has something decided beforehand even if it is just the time, location and the people involved.

Walk By is guided, much like an orchestral music performance, by a score; a set of instructions. In our case the score is used a bit more like the chord progressions and original melody are used by jazz musicians when they play “standards”.

In Walk By the score is made up of elements that suggest particular kinds of actions, like walking for example, and of instructions that ask the performers to pay attention to different memories, ideas and relationships with each other, as the performance progresses. There are no instructions in the score about what precise moves or shapes the performers should make. All of the detail is left up to the intuitive decisions of the performers.

In Walk By the performers do a poetic version of the already magical thing that we all do in our daily lives: Making it up, together and separately, as we go along, within frameworks and guidelines created by history, ethical values and aesthetic taste.

The music for Walk By is called Drive By. It is a recording of an hour-long improvisation by The Necks, an Australian band of three master improvisers whose concert in St Columb’s Hall, Derry in 2014 was an inspiration. It gives me an amused pleasure to think that a recording of an improvisation has become the only really fixed part of Walk By.

The lights for Walk By are, of course, fixed in their positions and directions but the choices about the intensity, blending and colour of the light are made by our lighting designer Barry Davis as the performance is created.

Walk By is a sort of meditation on the “poetics of the ordinary”. It has grown from an interest in the way that the smallest elements of the human world around us frequently arouse deep feelings and perhaps powerful responses, even though these feelings and responses often remain restrained and undramatic.

Walk By begins very quietly and takes it’s time to find its way. We aren’t in a rush and we invite you to join us in slowing down and paying attention to the small and touching details of the world as we pass through it and it passes by us.

Part of our creation process was to notice small incidents that we saw in the street which moved us in some mysterious way. We have printed out some of these shortest of short stories for you to read before the performance begins.

I hope you enjoy the performance. It lasts one hour.

Steve Batts

Artistic Director

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company

 

Image by Sarah Bryden Photography

 

Body Wisdom reflections ahead of Walk By performances next week

We are very much looking forward to performances on Walk By next week – new performance work created by Echo Echo Ensemble, the Body Wisdom group, and young children from Echo Echo Kids Classes.

Echo Echo and Body Wisdom have been meeting voluntarily in a professional studio context for many months to develop the deep improvisation processes in Walk By under the direction of Steve Batts and accompanied by the hypnotic music of The Necks.

We recently asked some of the Body Wisdom group for their reflections on what the project has meant to them and received some wonderful words…

“the positive effect of movement on people’s cognitive ability, physical health and general wellbeing is undisputed and particularly the type of movement/dance that we do in Body Wisdom has all of us sailing out the door with our endorphins flying!”

“Movement any movement done naturally and with awareness and gratitude for life and the moment given, is graceful enjoyable and self-fulfilling. It’s a positive addiction and great crack. It has a laughter of self-forgetfulness bubbling beneath the surface that, though the spirit of dance cannot be commanded, on some occasions of its own grace rises irrisistibly shaking the body out of its knotty sullennesses. Like water it’s a simple natural thing essential and often overlooked. An expression of the nobility of the human in the prison of her days, where as Wordsworth has it, all the weary weight of this unintelligible world is lightened and where we are taught to be wise  in silent or whispered praise. It’s an honour then to be part of an effort to participate in sharing this often spurned gift.”

My 2 years coming to Body Wisdom have really been a life saver for me, in many ways, which are too personal to share.  One of the things I love about our classes, is that “There is no wrong way “  In life we are often corrected, from an early age we are told we are not doing IT right, whatever it may be, big or small, important or not.  To experience the freedom and permission to do IT my way, to trust my judgement,  is a very powerful positive thing.  It helps me believe I am ok.

Tickets for Walk By are onsale now and available via the Echo Echo website.

 

Walk By Artwork

Kelly Quigley reflects on new Echo Echo performance project with Alessandra Celesia

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Tonya Sheina, Steve Batts, Zoe Ramsey, Kelly Quigley, Alessandra Celesia, Ayesha Mailey, and Janie Doherty at Echo Echo Studios

We have just finished four days of research and development with Alessandra Celesia ahead of our new work commission project Keloids Symphony (working title) which will take place in August at Echo Echo Studios.

This new work has been two and a half years in the making and something the whole company is eager to bring to life. In 2014 Alessandra Celesia walked into our lives and for two days pushed us to the very limits of our emotional range. She cut through our armour and brought out a genuineness in performance that I had strived for but never experienced before. I remember coming away from that first session not quite sure if I ever wanted to do it again, but as the days went on and I started to process and digest all we had done, I felt in my gut that it could be the start of something amazing. Without knowing any of us at all she was able to reach into the roots of each of us and bring out, with such honesty, what was hiding underneath our protective layers of sarcasm, humour, dismissal and anything else that we felt shielded us from the world. It was startling and nerve wrecking, frustrating and completely exhilarating!  I wanted more….. I was glad to find that the rest of the ensemble felt the same, as did our Artistic Director and musician Steve Batts. We discussed and agreed that this was something worth pursuing and quickly set about trying to make it happen.

We have had two short intensive periods with Alessandra since then, the most recent of which was last week.  With careful and nurturing hands, Alessandra was able to unlock the massive vault in each of our memory banks and bring out the tragic, the comical, the absurd, the grotesque, the mundane and the relatable. We were able to tell our stories with such integrity and vulnerability, that we found ourselves touching those who listened and being touched simply by playing ‘the audience’ when it was someone else’s turn to talk.

I am quite certain that this was able to happen so quickly and with such depth because of our work with Steve over the years. His knowledge, his creative process, his experience, and the depth in the way he teaches and produces work are so inspiring and motivating. He has been so generous in sharing all of this with us, as well as supporting and encouraging us to find our own artistic voices and produce our own work. I feel like this has allowed us to find a route in to the way in which Alessandra works and see the importance of how it allows us to create something of meaning and value. I can’t thank him enough for that.

I would also like to thank the rest of the ensemble; Ayesha, Tonya, Zoe and Janie for their hard work and dedication, in not just this, but in everything they do. You make it easier for me to be an artist in the most challenging of ways.

Thank you Barry, our Technical Manager, for embracing everything you have seen and heard in these sessions (the tears, the snot, the hysterical laughter…), without a hint of judgement or derision, while you go about trying to bring our theatrical vision to life.

I look forward to what August brings…..

Kelly Quigley

Echo Echo Ensemble

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An invitation to Echo Echo Parent and Toddler classes – creative movement and play for pre-school children

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Our parent and toddler classes are ongoing through to June 2016. They aren’t every week and you can come to one, some or all of them.

They are for adults and children aged 4 and under.

The classes offer a lot of freedom to play in movement and, naturally, through this play to develop physical co-ordination, strength and confidence as well as communication abilities. The classes are a great way to introduce your child to joining in with group activities and sharing time and space with others.

Every person’s early movement experience, from womb through birth and into early childhood is fundamentally interactive; a series of duets with mother, other close adults and gradually with other children. In these classes we begin from that fundamental intimacy, we emphasise movement relationships between the adults and the children and give a chance for the parents to remember the pleasure of playing, exploring and expressing oneself in movement, and for the children to enjoy their parents in a time and space that allows their connection to be the focus without distractions of practical tasks, toys or screens. The classes include some copying and some time in a circle, we spin, slide roll, run and they always involve direct physical contact between parent and child; rolling together, climbing, lifting and so on.

We have a very organic sense of discipline and we allow all the participants to find their way through the class as they feel. Generally we have noticed that if the adults do the class fully the children will find their way in and out according to their own attention spans.

We use a variety of music which includes African, Cuban, folk, singer songwriter and gentle electronica.

The classes are normally taught by Echo Echo artistic director, Steve Batts, who has many years of experience of teaching children and adults. Usually he is joined by his four year old daughter Dara who co-teaches with him, showing ways to do the dances and moves together.

If you think you’d enjoy this please do come along to try it out. If you’d like to find out more before coming don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to have a chat.

 

Echo Echo Parent & Toddler classes

With Steve Batts and Dara

Saturdays 2.30pm – 3.30pm

Continues 30th April; 14th, 21st May; 4th, 18th June

Cost £6/class

Parent feedback from previous Echo Echo Parent & Toddler classes

“My son’s confidence has really benefited, he loves dancing and the big open space to enjoy it.”

“Love being with my child in an open friendly and fun filled environment.“

“I was so afraid to go out with a two year old who is full of beans. Here there is no judgement. Fantastic. Thanks.”

“Approach was perfect for the age group – allowing the kids to join in or out when they needed to.”

 

Images by Patrick Duddy Photography

Echo Echo Technical Workshop in ‘Sound and Lighting Techniques for Theatre’

Recently we carried out a workshop at Echo Echo in ‘Sound and Lighting Techniques for Theatre’ as part of Kabosh/Libraries NI Workshops event and led by our very own technical manager, Barry Davis.

The workshop covered a multitude of technical theatre skills through a practical hands-on approach, such as: proper setup of a PA system; gain structure and feedback elimination; stage etiquette and working with musicians; lighting equipment, lighting design and cue building.

Here is some feedback from the participants:

“Very friendly, calm and knowledgeable – we were encouraged to ask questions and use the equipment ourselves.”

“Really good, simple, casual, conversational so it was good to ask questions.”

“The information about sound and setting up a PA, including practical info about how to deal with feedback and working with eq was very useful.”

Following the success of this event we are hoping to develop these workshops in the future, and would encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in technical theatre, or who has an interest in sound and lighting to contact us regarding further workshops.

Reflections of Echo Echo Associate Artistic Director, Ayesha Mailey

 

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Tonya Sheina and Ayesha Mailey perform at Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement

Last month on 24th March we had a lovely lunchtime performance in our studio theatre. It’s something we want to do regularly again and we’ve pencilled in another date in May – details coming soon.  These performances give us an opportunity to focus on a particular theme or interest and present it as a short piece for an audience. Within the ensemble there are always lots of creative ideas floating around. Some of these ideas can be realised into projects whereas others never get a chance to flourish for various reasons such as time, money or resources. But performances like these can happen fairly easily and it gives us a chance to cook some of our ideas. We have dancers who love to dance and create together, a beautiful space and wonderful hard working staff.

When I began writing this entry for the blog I thought I wanted to reflect on the lunchtime performance we did in March. I wanted to write about how we created this work as an ensemble. We didn’t have one director. We were all the choreographers, performers and directors of the piece. We collaborated. But as I began writing about our working methods and the concepts of our Artistic Director, Steve Batts, I thought I’d rather write about how Steve and Ursula Laeubli made it possible for us, in the ensemble, to collaborate and to create these lunchtime performances and everything else we do at Echo Echo.

Steve and Ursula founded Echo Echo in 1991 and moved the company to Derry 1997. I was one of their first students at the age of seventeen. I was so inspired by them. I remember standing in a circle doing a breathing exercise and I knew somehow I had found my place and my people. I’ve grown up in the company and I watched Steve and Ursula work ridiculously hard to create the environment that we have today. I know one of their dreams was to have a home for Echo Echo and an ensemble of dancers and it was mine too. We had different versions of this over the years but they were never quite right. At one point I was the only ensemble member actually living in Derry! I was lonely. I needed people to dance and create with. Now after many years and a few false starts we have one. We have an amazing facility to create and perform in. We also have a technician that makes our production dreams come true. We can create work a lot easier that we could a few years ago.  The rest of our present ensemble were also students of Steve and Ursula. They opened the door to this world for all of us, provided training, space and mentoring. They made it possible for us to work professionally and allowed us to have the confidence in our own ability.

We’re so lucky to have Steve as our Artistic Director at Echo Echo. He’s got over thirty years of experience developing dance, theatre and movement projects in Northern Ireland and abroad. He has a unique way of looking at dance and theatre that is inspiring to many. Much of what he says (and he says a lot! It’s quite a gift he has!!!) just makes good theatre sense. For me, when he talks about a concept or process, he has an amazing way of describing what you, in retrospect already know but didn’t realise you knew and what you could never communicate so articulately anyway. Emily Welther, who is a long term collaborator of Echo Echo and based in Germany, said to me once “every time I do a project with Steve I feel like I’m getting an education”.  We have all learned and continue to learn so much from him.

Steve has always encouraged us to dedicate time to our own artistic development and practice by having studio time alone and with others and making space to reflect, write, read and observe. His work has given us an amazing ground to create our choreographic projects. We couldn’t have made Open House, Ludo Lusi Lusum, Lost in Frost, our solo works or individual projects if Steve hadn’t put in an enormous amount of time and effort into developing a shared movement world with us. Our lunchtime performances and all the work we do have this ground underneath it.

 

There are lots of artistic desires and creative ideas floating about the Echo Echo ether. We work hard to realise these but we don’t get to do all the projects we want. Like many artists we don’t make much money. We could always do lots of things better but we’re committed to learning, growing and evolving as an ensemble. Steve and Ursula made this possible. With the anniversary of Ursula’s death days away I wonder what she would think about what we are doing. I hope she wouldn’t mind our persistent lateness, messiness and that sometimes we leave half-living/dead flowers in a vase. I hope she would see that little by little we are working to create something special and that it’s all being so well taken care of by Steve and supported amazingly by Ailbe, Anna and Barry.

Ayesha Mailey, Echo Echo Associate Artistic Director

Echo Echo shortlisted for Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Culture in North West Business Awards

The shortlist for the 2016 North West Business Awards managed by Chamber of Commerce and City Centre Initiative were announced today.

Echo Echo is pleased to be shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to Arts and Culture category along with our good friends and colleagues at Earagail Arts Festival, City of Derry Choral Festival and UV Arts.

We are happy to see that In Your Space have been nominated for Best Tourism Event for the brilliant Carnival of Colours too.

You can read the full list of categories and shortlisted companies here. Best of luck to all the finalists.

Here is a reminder of a just a few highlights from the last year in Echo Echo:

LUDO LUSI LUSUM at Echo Echo Studios (June) and Baby Day Belfast (September)

 

ECHO ECHO FESTIVAL OF DANCE AND MOVEMENT Third Edition (November)

 

BODY WISDOM – Performances inspired by W.B.Yeats, continuing weekly sessions, performance at Echo Echo Festival Open Studio, development of a new work with Steve Batts and Echo Echo Ensemble, shortlisted for an EPIC Award 2016

 

ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE PROGRAMME at Echo Echo Studios welcomed local, national and international artists including: Oona Doherty, Maria Svensson, Lihi Shivak and James King, Jusztina Hermann and Robert Peoples, Caitriona McLaughlin and Immram company, Nick Bryson and company

 

PRIMARY SCHOOLS DANCE DEVELOPMENT – Echo Echo worked with 15 local primary schools and hundreds of local schoolchildren on participation programmes supported by Derry and Strabane District Council, the Ernest Cook Trust and others

 

Some wonderful moments among many, many more artistic projects and events throughout 2015/16.

With thanks as always to the artists, staff, volunteers, audiences, participants, funders and partners who make Echo Echo’s work possible.

Ailbe Beirne, Company Manager