Grété Šmitaité in Šimonys Forest

Over the past months I have had the pleasure of mentoring former Artist in Residence at Echo Echo, Grété Šmitaité as she has been researching in Šimonys Forest, Lithuania, developing a new work. She has been invited to show the piece for the first time as part of a double bill to be shown in late November early December in Vilnius.

The mentoring has, like most of my recent dance related interactions, been done online. It always feels a pity not to be able to be “there”, in real life, sharing the space, the air the local sounds and smells, feeling the actual presence together. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d have been able to make a trip to Lithuania under normal circumstances so I’m actually really happy and feel privileged that I was asked and able to say yes.

Grété invited me to mentor her because of an interest in the general framework of Echo Echo’s practice of Poetic Movement and particularly because of a connection with the landscape/environmental/outdoor movement work that I do. This form of practice was central to the creation of The Cove in 2012, to much of my work with the Body Wisdom Group, and has been at the heart of the work I’ve been doing with Echo Echo’s sister ensemble in Russia, over the past few years. This area of work doesn’t focus so much on site specific events and performance in particular locations, but more on the way in which sensory memory and imagination of particular places can be brought into the studio and activated there as a source for dancing. It was this process of “embodying memory” and recall that she wanted to engage with in her own way.

It has been a pleasure to be sent videos and texts to mull on and to meet in video calls to discuss and reflect. It is always so inspiring to exchange with someone who is full of interest, motivation and curiosity while having a certain restrained, patience.

The process is going to continue over the next month, leading up to the performances on 30th November and 1st December. Lithuania appears to be doing a bit better than around here with the current pandemic so we remain hopeful that the performances will go ahead. I feel sad that I won’t be there to see the first showing, but hopefully there will be chances in future. Maybe Grété will be able to come back to Derry and show the work here.

Here are some reflections from Grété on her process so far

“With the start of the pandemic I have moved to live in a house in Šimonys forest, Lithuania. It was most of the time living there, me and the dog, meeting the fluxes of air, growth of vegetation, comings and goings of wild animals. This was at the start of the pandemic, when how things will go on was not clear. I felt a strong desire to be connected to the place where I was and to stay in touch with people, amongst them with other makers of dance who at the time were isolated in other parts of the world. To do so I wanted to dance in the place where I was, study from books, videos, write, call colleagues, share thoughts of doing and living.

I did not know how to start dancing in a meadow, a forest. I was walking, observing, adapting, moving. While moving I looked for the sizzling restless feeling with which came some clarity of what I do and how I connect to where I am, the clarity in time and ability to trace / not get into the way for what will follow what, for how things will go on. I defined this as dancing and looked for it. 

When starting, I would walk for around 3 hours and the dance that I could dance was 30 seconds. It felt scary and exciting. Observing the changes of presence, movements that I do not control, the movement of attention was inspiring and frustrating. I was getting to know about the place through doing things in it – from walking, moving, dancing to picking herbs, planting vegetables.

Mostly being in this forest I walk the same paths. I realised that ‘in the practice’ I was trying to break this – I had many times taken a new way, thinking that I should do so since that is how I am more attentive and can make better choices choosing where and how to dance, observe. I would get lost. With time I realised that for the thing I was doing it does not make sense to try to break the ways I walk the place.

I was dancing ‘out in the open’, not setting any boundary for where the limit of space that I am within, is. Or setting boundaries and approaching ‘out in the open’ from there. My main partners being a vast sky and the vast ground in their meetings. ‘What you do feels very seasonal’ Steve has mentioned after watching some records from the meadow, some time later. 

The weather was always changing. Places changed from spring to autumn. Familiarity with the places grew. Pretending that I knew the places grew.

What would be the dance that stays, when places change? What could hold it?

I would like to now go to the studio and see, how could the dancing, the restlessness of it ‘out in the open’ become alive and reachable in the studio. 

Throughout the time in the forest I was reading Contact Quarterly dance journal 1975-1992 and ‘Being Alive’ by Tim Ingold. C. Q. encouraged me to appreciate simple things – breath, weight, senses, sharing thoughts. It also showed how much there is in each of these things, when actually getting to be attentive to them. ‘Being Alive’ supported the trust that dancing, observing as well as cooking, storytelling are ways of being part of the world and its worldling.

Through the 6 months I was sharing what I was doing with: Stephen Batts as a mentor, Christine Quoiraud as a very experienced colleague, who both have offered insights, encouraged me to be honest and real to do what I was doing as well as be fair and agree, when I am stuck / pretending to be doing what I am not doing. ‘A rigorous practice of dancing. | Don’t do anything before you know it’s that. When you are done – stop.’ I carry words from Steve. ‘Practice rhythms all the time, not just on stage. If you just do it on stage, for the camera, it is already too late. | Practice concentration all the time. Not just for stage as a human tool to be part of the world’ from Christine. 

Sharing thoughts with colleagues, Rūta Junevičiūtė, Hanna Kritten Tangsoo, Magdalena Meindl, Lyllie Rouvière, Forough Fami, Iivy Meltaus. Taking time for a conversation, for writing a letter. Through having these small and at the same time vast exchanges I realize, how important they are.

I am deeply thankful for this time in the forest”.

Steve Batts 22nd October 2020

45 short works programmed to date. New commissions to Echo Echo Festival Open Call…


Echo Echo Festival Open Call is now accepting proposals and the closing date is Friday 23rd October 2020For further information on how to apply please visit:

The Open Call programme has been a highlight of Echo Echo Festival over the last few years with over 600 applicants from all around the world and 45 short works programmed.

Many artists have connected with Echo Echo for the first time through the Open Call and have built ongoing creative relationships with us, showing full works at later editions of the Festival, or returning to Echo Echo Studios as artists-in-residence.

Echo Echo Festival Open Call Artists from 2014-18 included:

Ferenc Fehér and Dávid Mikó; Sahar Damoni; Hwa Wei-An; Julianne Chapple and Maxine Chadburn; Rikilikemagic (Rachel Sheil); Susan Koper; Look, but with love (Suahee Abro and Lucia Moretti); Linda Fearon, Cinzia Savonitti & Helen Hall of Luminous Soul; Zoe Ui Fhaolain; Nasrine Kheltent; Inna Aslamova; Hilde Ingeborg Sandvold; Anastasia Brouzioti and Yiannis Tsigkris of Alma Libre; Lior Lazarof, Timea Laza and Sharon Barbakov; Bjorn Richter of RichterMeyerMarx; Hannah Rogerson and Pieter Visser of Tea Time Company; Siobhán Ní Dhuinnín and Isabella Oberlander; Collective B, Sonia Borkowicz, Elsa Mourlam, Izabela Soldaty, Vilte Svarplyte; Sarah Herr and Meret Rufener; Nicola Cisternino; Circul’R, David Phiphak, Berenice Dupuis; Sabrina Gargano and Verena Schneider; Aoife Toner; Gary Rowntree, Ryan O’Neill, Catherine Muckle; My Johansson; Erin O’Reilly, Sophie Ammann and Roseanne Briens of Junebug Company; Rachel Sheil; Jusztina Hermann and Robert Peoples of Delighters; Yukiko Masui; Jann Gallois; Mel Bradley and Zoe Ramsey; Helga Deasy; Nastasja Stefanic and company; Sorcha Shanahan; Alba Lorca; Alessandro Sollima; Jessica Peoples and ZoNa Dance Company; Maria Papathanasiou; Ronan Kearney; Claire Bonnie; Argyro Tsampazi; Lily Akerman; Oona Doherty; Sara Campinoti; Sibéal Davitt and Olwyn Lyons; Valeria Famularo; Carie Logue and NWRC Dance.

With thanks to all of the past Festival Open Call artists and their colleagues, collaborators and supporters!

Selection of images from previous editions






Images by Living Witness Photography 

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


Open Call for Commissions for Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement, February 20th – 27th 2021, Derry.

Art Work Mark Willet

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company will award three small commissions for works that are “adaptable” to Covid19 circumstances and restrictions. The main restriction is that work should be created on the island of Ireland and that creation and performance of it should not involve any international travel which might put the project at risk should restrictions apply.

Application deadline is Friday 23rd October with decisions announced by Friday 30th October.

Contact Artistic Director, Steve Batts with any queries:


Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is planning the next edition of its annual festival of dance and movement. The festival will run between 20th and 27th February 2021.

Due to the current conditions around the Covid19 pandemic we are aiming for a “pandemic adaptable” programme which is shorter and smaller than in previous editions. With a nod to the film Being John Malkovich, we are thinking of this years festival as the seven-and-a-halfth edition and we are hoping for interesting and imaginative proposals that suit this “in-between” time.

The main festival programme will be made up of commissioned pieces made with the idea of being “pandemic adaptable”. To minimise risk of cancellations due to pandemic related restrictions on international travel we are asking for proposals from artists based in The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for new work or adapted existing work. The proposed works should not involve any international travel which might jeopardise performance should travel restrictions be in place.

There are three commissions available. One at £3000, one at £2500 and one at £1500. 50% of the commission fee will be paid in advance with the remainder payable on completion of the project.


1. Artists applying must be based in Northern Ireland or The Republic of Ireland

2. The proposed work should be new work or an appropriate adaptation of existing work.

3. We are looking for proposals for “pandemic adaptable” work. Circumstances are likely to remain unpredictable and changeable for the foreseeable future, so we want to commission live work that will be able to be shared in most circumstances other than a complete societal shutdown.

4. The aim should be to present the work live. We recognise that in exceptional circumstances this may not be possible. Any decision to present work in recorded form, partially or completely will be taken close to the festival dates in negotiation with artists. There will be no additional finance, beyond the commission fee, for last minute adaptations to the project. Please consider this when making your proposal.

5. In general we would expect work to be presented in or near Derry, although there might be project proposals for “live-feed” work where the performance, or elements of it, take place elsewhere.

6. Creation and/or performance of the work should not involve international travel which might jeopardise the creation or presentation of the work should travel restrictions be imposed.

7. We ask that artists make themselves available to join an online discussion session of one to two hours during the festival.

8. We look forward to your imaginative proposals. Here are some suggestions of possible approaches. We are sure there are others:

a) The proposal might be for work that is designed for or adaptable to outside spaces. Please remember that the festival is in February.

b) The proposal might be for multiple performances of a short piece, to very small audiences.

c) Proposals might be for solos, small ensembles, pieces with no physical contact or for work made by household groups who do not need to distance from each other.

d) Proposals might be for live transmission from a site specific location(s) to an audience gathered in a theatre space or hall for viewing (with option for viewing at home if gathering as an audience isn’t possible).

e) Proposals might be for durational, gallery-style work with small numbers of watchers at any particular time.

f) We imagine we might receive proposals that involve groups performing improvisation scores with minimal rehearsal, proposals that involve solo work developed from substantial studio time, and proposals that lie between these two.

g) We will favour imaginative approaches to the practical challenges of live performance in “Covid19 times”. This might mean proposing an idea which is possible under any condition excepting full lock-down restrictions or leaving the exact nature of the presentation open for now but with an indication of how you intend to take the circumstances and necessary adaptability into consideration at all stages.

h) We want to support ongoing, longer term interests of movement artists rather than be reactive to the specifics of the current pandemic time. Therefore we are not interested in receiving proposals which are explicitly, thematically, driven by the experience of the Covid19 pandemic. Tangential references, relevance, resonance are of course fine.

i) We are interested in, for example, how you think about your art practice in relation to the work of other dance artists (historical and contemporary), the world around us, aesthetic and political ideas, artists from other art forms. We aren’t ticking boxes, but rather listening for inspiration and depth.

The application process

 Send us a detailed proposal of what you would like to do, with whom and why, with background to your proposal and how you might imagine it turning out. Please give a brief outline of working process, timetable and any other financial support or support in kind that you will, or may, have. Please explain the way in which the work is “pandemic adaptable”. Please indicate if your proposal is specifically aimed at one of the commission levels. Maximum of 1500 words.

 An artist statement about your work and its history; themes, values, interests, development. Maximum 500 words.

 A biography or CV. Maximum one page A4.

 You may include a separate page with links to website, video, images, text and reviews about previous work. Please limit the amount of video material for which you provide links to a small number of relevant examples.

 You may include a separate page with personal references or recommendations that you think are relevant.

 Echo Echo may be able to support successful proposals with residencies, studio space, mentoring/creative support/technical support. If you would like this to be considered please address this in your application.

(Word counts are maximums and can be substantially lower if concision and brevity are yourthing”).

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to ask for more details or clarifications before making an application.

Send your application (or questions) by email with attachments to: by Friday 23rd October 2020. Decisions will be announced by Friday 30th October 2020.

Selection Process

Criteria: How does the proposal align with the history of programming of Echo Echo Festival and with its core, guiding principles: People not bodies. Armour off not armour on?

Selection will be by Echo Echo Artistic Director in consultation with Echo Echo staff and ensemble artists, with confirmation by Echo Echo Board.

We may make an initial short list and contact those listed for more information/clarification.

You can find details of previous Echo Echo Festivals and general information about the company at