Echo Echo regularly hosts placements from schools and colleges locally, nationally and internationally. The company’s latest recruit is Samuel Holden from NWRC in Derry.
Often work and training placements focus on artistic programme activities however Samuel will be helping to review some of the company’s administrative functions with a view to improving internal systems and processes.
A big welcome to Samuel from all of the Echo Echo team.
“Hi my name is Samuel Holden, I am a software development student at the North West Regional College and I am currently doing my work placement with Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company.
I not only intend to improve the contact and management record system at Echo Echo, but I also intend to get involved with the studio, from helping with publicity, working with classes, and various other opportunities over my placement.
I have a background in music, I play drums and bass, and this is what attracted Echo Echo for my placement.
I am quite grateful for this opportunity and hope that I can produce a system adequate for Echo Echo’s needs over the coming months.”
Echo Echo is very pleased to have hosted a three-week residency recently by theatre maker, performer and director, Gemma Walker.
In this blog, Gemma looks back at the research project in which she worked intensively with Tonya Sheina of Echo Echo Ensemble investigating movement and text.
“I have always been a fan of Echo Echo and the style and quality of their work is truly unique and interesting to me. In early 2015 I participated in an open workshop led by Antonina Sheina (Tonya) looking at movement with text. I am passionate about storytelling and am always looking for new ways to connect with material and this was a whole new world to play in! I found the attention to detail and level of sensitivity involved to be particularly appealing and Tonya was a wonderfully attentive and engaging teacher. From then I knew I wanted to work with her and Echo Echo to explore movement and text on a deeper level.
At the end of 2016 I received a General Arts Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Lottery fund under the Support for Individual Artists Programme. Echo Echo very kindly invited me to do a 3 week artistic residency and the award afforded me the time to work with Tonya intensively to explore movement with text in April/May 2017.
To have the time, space and intensive support to explore a new way of working, rake over ideas and really focus on my interests has been an invaluable opportunity for me as an artist. It has helped me to ‘find my voice’ as a theatre maker and performer by allowing me the time to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it. The residency has boosted my confidence as I have been able to enhance my skills and forge new working relationships. Tonya is a wonderful teacher and director who listens and watches attentively and guides gently. Some of the Echo Echo ensemble participated in a couple of workshops in the final week to offer feedback. Their input and support has been invaluable.
It has been a joy to work with Tonya, thanks to Echo Echo and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. I am amazed at what we have accomplished in 3 weeks together. I feel utterly inspired, full of ideas and so excited to develop this work in future.”
GEMMA WALKER BIOG
Gemma studied Drama and English Literature at the University of Birmingham and started work as a drama facilitator in Birmingham in 2006 before moving home to Derry the following year. Since then she has trained in the world renowned Meisner technique with The Impulse Company, London/New York from 2013-2016 and is currently learning sign language. Gemma is one half of comedy storytelling duo, ‘The Makey Uppers’ with Sorcha Shanahan and their show ‘Alternative Bedtime Stories’ received rave reviews at the Belfast Comedy Festival in 2016 and is set to tour in 2017/18. She has been director of the Ulidian Youth Drama Group in Derry since 2007 and, as a freelance theatre maker, regularly devises new theatre with community groups from all areas and backgrounds. She has worked all over the UK and Ireland with people of all ages and abilities and writes and performs regularly for a diverse array of projects (storytelling, theatre, street performance, performance poetry). Her greatest passion lies in continuously finding new ways of telling stories and connecting people through storytelling.
ANTONINA SHEINA BIOG
Antonina Sheina originally studied acting in at the Russian University of Theatre Arts in Moscow. She then worked in the Moscow Malaya Bronnaya Repertoire Theatre for four years until 2011 when she moved to Ireland and joined Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company where she now regularly performs, teaches and directs work. Recent projects include an all-island tour of The Cove (2017), Echo Echo’s production of Lost in Frost a dance/ theatre piece for children which Tonya created and directed in 2015, and Echo Echo’s production of Walk By (2016) in which Tonya performed. Tonya also performs regularly with LUXe the Processional Theatre Company.
Gemma’s 2017 residency project was supported by ACNI SIAP and Echo Echo.
Kelly Quigley is an established member of of Echo Echo Ensemble having worked with the company on a very wide range of artistic projects since graduating from Ulster University in 2009.
In 2016 Echo Echo Festival commissioned Kelly to make a new evening of work entitled Fractals, and Kelly successfully crowdfunded the project with the generous support of nearly 70 people and local businesses. Fractals was very warmly received by audiences in Derry and on tour in Sweden:
“Extraordinary, it built to an amazing climax in the last piece after the break. That blew me away. Such fabulous choreography and taut cohesion between the performers.”
“Fantastic performance, as someone who has never been to a performance well this definitely exceeded any expectations I had.”
Kelly reflects on being part of Echo Echo Ensemble in The Cove:
“There’s such a rareness to The Cove and its approach to movement, a delicate line between practical and poetic, a softened distinction between reality and performance… In real time and space we are sitting on, climbing on, moving on, lifting and shifting these robust uncooperative boxes. However, these simple, everyday tasks help us create a mixture of landscapes which can vary dramatically just from where you are in the room. This, coupled with the sound score allow you transport yourself to a rocky beach, or cliffs overlooking the sea. Embodied there, imagining what you can see, taste, smell, hear and touch, is what I love most about The Cove. It has enriched my artistic practice as a dancer so much to be able to work in this way. I have discovered hidden depths to movement/ performance that I never imagined before starting this process and it has shaped the my own work since. I am proud to be have been a part of the process and elated that it is ongoing after 6 years.”
Kelly Quigley in Motion Ensemble (Image by Sarah Bryden)
Kelly Quigley in LUDO (Image by Living Witness)
About Kelly Quigley
Kelly Quigley is a First Class BA Dance graduate of Ulster University. She joined Echo Echo Ensemble in 2009 and has been involved as performer, director, co-deviser and writer in a very wide range of productions and tours including Undercurrent (2009-2011), The Feel of Play (2012), Without (2013), Motion Ensemble (2013), Ludo Lusi Lusum (2014), Lost in Frost (2015/16), In Tall Grass (2016), and Walk By (2016), to name but a few. Kelly was Associate Choreographer of Echo Echo’s widely acclaimed large-scale production The Chess Piece (2010/11) that was awarded a prestigious Inspire Mark of the Cultural Olympiad.
Kelly regularly teaches dance and movement to people of all ages and abilities working in schools, community partnerships, and on Echo Echo’s participation programmes. Kelly has played a leading role in Echo Echo’s award-winning Body Wisdom programme for over-50s who regularly create new performance projects.
The Cove 2017 tour arrives in Dublin for performances at Project Arts Centre on Thursday 6th, Friday 7th and Saturday 8th April at 7.30pm. Tickets available via the Project Arts Centre website including special double bill offer.
“My name is Maria Svensson, I’m an independent dance artist currently with residence funded by the Arts Council and Kerry County Council in An Lab located in beautiful Dingle, county Kerry. The first time I went to Derry was in April 2015 and I remember joking to myself ‘Kerry to Derry in one day’, that’s a great title, what a crazy long journey for someone to do in just one day! I didn’t think I’d be doing that journey too often, because really, it’s a bit of a trek. I’m delighted to have the excuse to go to Derry as often as possible these days though. It’s really great once I’m up and the journey does get easier with time.
Since that time in April I’ve been in Derry to perform in the Dance and Movement Festival in 2015 and now recently rehearse, rework and perform The Cove together with Steve Batts and everyone in the ensemble.
Ever since I got to know Echo Echo and their work, I knew I wanted to do what they were doing. Their way of working really appeals to me and I was delighted, of course, when asked to take part in The Cove. It was pretty daunting at first but I decided to take one day at a time. I got to visit the real cove near Shroove in County Donegal which was really helpful, I was then introduced to all the wonderful pieces in the installation that makes the piece so special.
Since January of this year we have performed already in three different places, altogether six performances and we have five more to go. It feels like the most natural thing and I’m really enjoying exploring Ireland, getting to know different venues and places and getting to know the people in the company more too.
It is really such an exciting thing to be part of and a pleasure to have this opportunity to perform the piece so many times and each time explore and evolve with it. I can’t wait for us to perform in my neck of the woods. I have a long and close relationship with Limerick so I’m delighted we’re going there (1st of April). Not quite Kerry but tis not as far as going to Tipperary (where we will be on the 31st of this month).”
About Maria Svensson
Maria Svensson is originally from Sweden, she has worked as an independent dance artist for a number of years and with companies such as Being Small Dance (UK), Daghdha Mentoring Program (IE) and Dans i Värmland (SE). She recently started her own company Rooted Being and was dance artist in residence with Kerry County Council 2014-2015. She has worked in collaboration with Echo Echo in various capacities since April 2015 when she first undertook a residency at their studios in Derry. Later that year she presented her solo The Importance of Shepherds as part of the Echo Echo International Festival. In 2015 and 2016 members of the Echo Echo Ensemble also presented solo work at the Going Solo Festival in Sweden of which Maria is the curator.
A big thanks to everyone who attended the final northern performance of The Cove last Saturday afternoon at Echo Echo Studios. Beautiful feedback received from an audience of all ages including students from Oakgrove College and First Act Youth Drama, and regular participants from Echo Echo’s Body Wisdom, Kids Classes, and Making Moves groups.
Here is a short selection of feedback received on Saturday including this colourful alternative Cove artwork by some of our younger audience members!
“Wonderful movement, very relaxing and stimulating.”
“A performance well worth attending. Beautiful to watch. Captivating.”
“It felt very relaxing. It reminded me of the sea and Malin Head.”
“Wonderfully strong dancers. Transported to the sea.”
“Amazing. Fast paced and interesting. Very atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful music.”
Antonina plays a central role in The Cove as the woman who travels through Dan Shipsides’ acclaimed set installation. Antonina reflects on being part of this long-term collaborative production:
“To be able to work on the Cove three times during last six years is an incredible experience. It’s like you visiting a place you know very well, but it’s never the same, and you are never the same. It makes me look at life in a bigger perspective, to feel how loud the immediate experience is, and that it’s constantly disappearing. Reminds me about mortality, that life and death is actually one thing and you just walk on the edge hoping no to slip too soon. Trying not to chase the time but rather letting it to go through, gives me time to see what is around me before it’s gone.”
Jane Coyle writes recently for Culture NI about Antonina’s performance in The Cove:
“When Antonina Sheina’s Woman awakes and joins them in their mysterious odyssey, the touch paper is lit under the performance. Sheina is a classically trained actor from Russia and exudes a quiet but irresistible magnetism. Inspired by the fearless instincts of her companions, she too spreads her wings, looks up into the sky and, with the sun warm on her face, becomes a part of their community, sharing the joy and determination of attaining the lofty plateau upon which they can relax and revel.”
Antonina Sheina originally studied acting in at the Russian University of Theatre Arts in Moscow. She then worked in the Moscow Malaya Bronnaya Repertoire Theatre for four years until 2011 when she moved to Ireland and joined Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company where she now regularly performs, teaches and directs work.
Tonya has been part of Echo Echo Ensemble since 2011 devising and performing in a wide variety of artistic projects including Feel of Play (2012), Without (2013), Open House (2013), Ludo Lusi Lusum (2014), creating/directing children’s dance theatre piece Lost in Frost (2015), and Walk By (2016), among many other production and participative projects by the company.
Tonya has worked on several collaborative projects with local and visiting companies and artists including Ulster University’s Old Ground (2014), Spazio Seme’s Cimosa (2015) and Maria Svensson’s solo The Importance of Shepherds (2015) to name but a few. Tonya also performs regularly with LUXe processional and landscape theatre company.
Thanks to Sarah Bryden and Barry Davis for images.
In the first of a short series of blogs featuring artists involved in Echo Echo’s production of The Cove, currently on an all Ireland tour, we asked Esther Alleyne to tell us about her experience of the project:
“I have been working on The Cove since the initial pilot project Vertical Nature Base six years ago and it has been wonderful to see how The Cove and has evolved and developed into the piece we are now performing. The Cove has allowed me to engage with the landscape around me in different way and changed my view of how I interact with the outdoors. It has been wonderful to perform a piece so many times and a rare opportunity to continue to work on a piece over so many years and watch how both the piece and my own dance practice have developed. I hope we are still performing it in another 6 years!“
Esther Alleyne is a Dance Artist based in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. After graduating from Ulster University Magee with a first class honours degree in Dance in 2011 she was awarded a year long graduate apprenticeship with Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company.
Esther has worked with the company for over five years and performed in Echo Echo productions such as Vertical Nature Base (2011), The Cove (2012), Ludo Lusi Lusum (2014-15) a dance theatre piece aimed at young audiences, and most recently Lost in Frost (2016). Esther played a central role as Production Coordinator for Without by Rosemary Lee and Echo Echo, one of the major dance projects of City of Culture 2013 involving over 500 people.
Esther also teaches a range of classes for all ages and abilities, and choreographs her own work including being commissioned to create a short work in collaboration with colleague Janie Doherty for Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement 2013. She was recently awarded an Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council NI and used it to research a solo dance project.
Esther also works for a number of other arts companies including being a stage manager for Young at Art, working with other local and international choreographers, and as performer for large-scale outdoor theatre company LUXe – including national and international projects, and most recently at the Clipper Festival 2016 on LUXe’s large-scale Voyage of Sunniva performance on the River Foyle.
Thanks to Erin Shanks, Sarah Bryden, and Simon Alleyne for images.