Sabrina Gargano and Verena Schneider reflect on recent residency at Echo Echo Studios

Infinite You by Infinite Project
Infinite You by Infinite Project at Echo Echo Festival 2016 – image by Living Witness

We were really happy to host Sabrina Gargano and Verena Schneider of Infinite Project at Echo Echo Studios last month as part of our 2017 residency programme.

During their short visit back to Derry, Sabrina and Verena worked intensively on research and development of a new work performance and offered several youth dance workshops in partnership with Fireworks DDTA and Brona Jackson Dance.

We look forward to seeing the finished piece and welcoming them back to the Studios sometime soon!

17TH-23RD APRIL 2017


“We, that is Sabrina Gargano and Verena Schneider working together as Infinite Project, are incredibly blessed having spent a week in the lovely studios of Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company, receiving an incredible support by the company enabling us to bring our second work a big step further in its research and development.

In November 2016, we were invited to perform our first work Infinite You at the Echo Echo Festival as part of the short works programme, receiving support with travel and accommodation costs. We experienced the great work of the company in Derry-Londonderry, their relationship to their community and strong audience engagement and enjoyed learning about their artistic vision and hard work to be what they are now. One thing that was special about their relationship to the artists is that the communication was going beyond the festival with a deep engagement and interest in everyone’s work and further development as artists. Echo Echo Dance Theatre is very encouraging to invite people back for residencies and to keep the relationship going.

Following a proposal for an R&D for our new work Traces (working title), we were invited to come back this year and offered up to four weeks of studio time. For several reasons, we decided to go for just one week this time and arranged the dates with the artistic director Stephen Batts, arriving on Easter Sunday and staying for a week. Despite the Easter holidays we had full access to studio space and were welcome to stay as long as we wanted in the evening with members of the company arranging the studio to be opened or closed according to our working times. Stephen offered to host us with his family and we were incredibly grateful for the generosity to have free accommodation and unlimited studio space for one full week. Stephen as well as the other members of the company were very welcoming and expressed their interest in a sharing of the early research. The very relaxed and informal way of sharing was supported by Echo Echo’s vision and respect for the time it takes to develop good quality work. We appreciated each person’s time and experience in invaluable artistic discussions.

Being London based and at the early stages of artistic development, we have previously had very hard times of getting enough studio time with our limited private funds to get as deep into our work as we want to go. With the support of Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company we are now at a stage in the R&D at which we hope to apply to other residencies and funding to develop the work further. We think that in the dance world there should be more support to artists in the way that Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is offering it and hope that the support they are giving to artists in every stage of their career will be recognised and come back to them.”

Traces Demo Clip on YouTube

Further information

Infinite You by Infinite Project on Facebook

Steve Batts, Echo Echo Artistic Director

“It was lovely to have Verena Schneider and Sabrina Gargano as resident artists at Echo Echo for a week. They have a beautiful, serious, connection with each other which gives a strong ground for the development of their duet work.

They showed me a small section of what they are working on and it was intriguing and made me really want to see the finished version of the piece that they are working on.

It is such a privilege to be able to offer space and support to dance artists like them and the others who come to be artists in residence with Echo Echo. We thank them for their generosity in opening their working processes to us and for the gift of teaching while they are here.

We have an ongoing programme of residencies at Echo Echo. Anyone who is interested can contact us: steve [at]”




Samuel Holden on placement with Echo Echo from NWRC

Ailbe Beirne, Sam Holden and Steve Batts
Samuel Holden with Ailbe Beirne and Steve Batts of Echo Echo

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.”


Gemma Walker’s residency at Echo Echo Studios

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

close up2


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 - image by Barry Davis


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.