Jusztina Hermann / Delighters residency

JH image 7Residency at Echo Echo Dance Theatre

18th-25th January 2016

I’ve had a wonderful week long residency, a very creative time at Echo Echo working on the development of the longer version of our piece “Etudes” with Derry based fiddle player Robert Peoples.

However working hard, a week is not a very long time when one is bursting with ideas and challenging boundaries of disciplines. Scheduling was an important part of the work, and I also had the privilege to work with three of the company’s dancers on different aspects of the performance.

I had a very insightful exploratory session with Janie Doherty playing with levels, gaze, tension, rhythm and rediscovering the simplicity of the circle. I worked with Ayesha on leading with the feet, hands and attention, and I applied her exercises to the hoop as well. With Zoe Ramsey I was working on choreographing a floor sequence with the hoop and contemporary dance which became part of the show.

On my own I was working on my hula hoop training from a technical / circus skill aspect, solidifying existing tricks, discovering new balance points and focusing on multi-hoop work, as well as adding character to the movements. I was also working on contemporary dance routines and added the hoop to them later to experiment with the possibilities.

The space provided further opportunities too, like Zoe Ramsey’s contemporary dance class, and I also had a lovely improvisation of African dancing with hoop – inspired and assisted by the drum workshop in the upstairs studio.

For half days I was working with Robert Peoples on the extended version of our show “Etudes” of which a 10 minute version was shown at the Echo Echo Festival in November 2015.

Robert is a bespoke fiddle player who created the original music for the piece and was already part of the performance, but I really wanted to get him moving and discover how we can physically interact with each other while still playing. We started working with contact improvisation, rolling on the floor, shifting our weight onto each other, finding balance points and creating shapes, we even proceeded onto basic partner acrobatic moves. Then we added in the violin. It was challenging and completely new territory for Robert but he grasped it really quickly and we managed to drill a short choreography of the moves while he kept playing continuously and skilfully his freshly composed tango piece.

I was also experimenting with the space applying Linda Farkas’s floor mapping to get out of patterns I’m used to, and use the whole stage. This is a method where lines, circles and spirals are created on the floor and one has to trace these while doing an existing choreography / movement sequence, giving different directions to the movement while keep facing out to the front.

Another new scene is the 4 hoop scene which is about carrying our burdens, our shadow side, which feels like it keeps us trapped but it’s also possible to embrace them and turn them into beauty.

We had a lot of support from everyone at Echo Echo, from admin to tech and the creative crew and I can’t tell how grateful I am for their help and this opportunity. We also had a fantastic work in progress showing of our new extended piece with a very supportive audience who gave us great feedback and showed much anticipation towards our finished piece and our return to Echo Echo later this year with possible workshops and masterclasses. Thank you all who came and supported us on this journey.

It was a very intense and creative week, often painful, the floor felt magnetic and my muscles were sore from training and rehearsing all day, but according to Yael Karavan this is how your body says “Thank you. Thank you for using me.”

Well, I’m filled with gratitude on every level. Thank you Echo Echo.

Jusztina Hermann



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