Access improvements at Echo Echo Studios

Over the last few months Echo Echo has made an extensive range of improvements to accessibility at our home studios at Magazine Street on Derry’s historic City Walls following an independent access audit. The project was kindly supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council through the Department for Communities Regional Access and Inclusion Fund.


Our upstairs and downstairs accessible toilets have been reconfigured to better suit the needs of people with disabilities. Works include – addition of full length mirrors, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, shelves and door operating instructions. Sinks have been lowered and moved closer to toilet basins with taps repositioned. Support rails, emergency alarm pull cords and reset panels have been relocated to be within the recommended distance from sanitary facilities.


High contrast wayfinder signage and individual room signage have been designed and added throughout the building.


An extra handrail has been manufactured and added to the staircase leading to the theatre for added safety on the stairs.

Baby changer

A baby changer unit has been permanently installed in our downstairs WC.


A new lift has been installed restoring full accessibility to all floors of the building.

Hearing Loop

Both of our studios have been fitted with permanent hearing enhancement systems as well as signage advising of its presence. Our front door entry speaker system has had a hearing loop installed and we also have a portable hearing loop for box office and small meeting settings.


  • We have upgraded our means of escape provisions by procuring an evacuation chair for travel up and down stairs as well as providing training for staff and ensemble on the use of the chair.
  • All doors have had their opening and closing forces adjusted to the recommended forces.
  • Sanitary ware in WCs have had their tonal contrasts increased where required to aid people with restricted visibility.
  • A selection of seating with and without armrests has been obtained for our theatre.
  • Thermostatic mixing valves have been adjusted in all WCs and kitchen to ensure water temperature does not exceed recommended safety levels.
  • WC door opening/closing signage upgraded.
  • A non-slip all weather mat installed inside front door.
  • Tactile stair nosing has been added throughout the building for added safety on stairs.

Echo Echo Studios was previously awarded a ‘Change A Little Change A Lot’ Silver Standard Accessibility Award a few years ago so we hope that these extensive further improvements will make the centre fully accessible to all of our audiences, participants, colleagues and visitors as we begin to re-open in the coming weeks and months.

Access improvements will remain an ongoing process and we will continue to work with our broad range of users to ensure the building is as inclusive and accessible as possible.


A big thank you to Echo Echo Technical Manager Barry Davis who co-ordinated and managed the project; thanks to the Department for Communities Regional Access and Inclusion Fund; and many thanks to Louise Boyce, Access and Inclusion Officer and all involved at Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Paidushko – Interview with Marty Coyle and Zoe Ramsey

A few days ago I had a very interesting chat with Marty Coyle and Zoe Ramsey about their project which led to the music and dance video released last Thursday 5th November. I didn’t know any of the details of the project and the more I asked the more fascinating it got.

To begin with they were quite restrained in what they had to say but when I probed I discovered such depths in the background and process that they had gone through together and which explain the beautiful and touching quality of the music, dance and video.

Marty’s band Basork had played a concert for the closing party of the 2018 Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement. It was a great gig and the festival attendees and participants, including Zoe, fearlessly danced their hearts out to the relatively unusual rhythms and melodies of Basork’s strongly Balkan influenced music. Watching from the stage was when the idea came to him of a collaboration with a dance artist.

The idea settled and germinated and was in development towards a live performance when Covid 19 struck. Like many other projects it moved ‘online’ and became focused on the creation of a dance-music video with an original music composition and newly created dance.

Marty and Zoe’s basic idea was to develop a piece of music and dance at the same time using a traditional Bulgarian dance rhythm as a primary source. They told me that they wanted to keep a respectful attitude to the source material but not be totally bound by the tradition as they developed their new work.

Marty has a very deep background in Bulgarian folk music and has been researching and playing the music with exceptional musicians from the region for years. He chose a particular Bulgarian dance rhythm called a Paidushko as the starting point for the research and development. The Paidushko rhythm is in 5/8 time and, traditionally,  has a particular dance step pattern associated with it which, until recent years has been exclusively danced by men.

Zoe was new to the Bulgarian tradition of dance and she told me it was a challenge to begin to learn the step by watching dances and instruction videos on the internet and getting to know a bit about the background folk tradition associated with the dance. She said that to begin with the rhythm, which can feel unusual to a western European, was challenging but that as she relaxed into it and understood it better she came to love it.

Once she’d got the basic pattern of the step she and Marty began to exchange videos and sound recordings, layering and feeding back to each other. Keeping it virtual as is the habit of the Covid days we live in.

The music began with just a rhythm track and as the exchanges progressed layers of melody and harmony were added as Marty watched the dance develop. Zoe listened to the developing music and  deepened the dance material in response, extending away from the original step patterns into extended improvisation.

The whole project had new elements for both artists. The project was designed for an entirely online collaboration. Something that was new to both. This was Marty’s first creative collaboration with a dance artist and he said that he was pretty nervous to begin with. He told me he was quite surprised by the degree of discipline and rigour in Zoe’s practice as a movement artist. It was Zoe’s first extended exploration of elements of a folk dance tradition and she was concerned to be respectful to the tradition and to honour it properly as the source.

After the video was completed and sent for comments to Marty’s Bulgarian colleagues, they were really happy to get the feedback that the substantial parts of the dance in the video where Zoe sticks closely to the original step are accurately done and well performed!

Steve Batts

Echo Echo Artistic Director

Watch now


Music by Basork and Dragni Dragnev

Dancer Zoe Ramsey

Lighting and Technical Support Barry Davis

Mixed and Mastered by Marc Forbes

Filmed by Fiachra O’Longain

Special thanks to Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company and Modal Citizen Records

Music from the track is available from 5th November 2020 on all popular digital outlets via Modal Citizen Records.

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.


Covid-19 work by local artist shows how to fill an empty nest

Strata Poster art 2020

New exhibition ‘Strata’ by Derry-based artist Sashka B Sheils will be among the first post Covid-19 art exhibitions in Northern Ireland when it opens on 10 August at the Alley Theatre in Strabane.

It had originally been scheduled to open on 23 March, the day lockdown began in the UK.

An artist all her life, Sashka brings a compelling story about overcoming self-doubt and battling to make your passion a part of your life – no matter what your circumstances.

Taking up painting after her children were born, it was only once they had left home that her art became her vocation.

Her story resonates with anyone who ever thought about ‘what if’.

Sashka’s first art exhibition was held in Derry at Echo Echo Studios three years ago, and since then a number of her pieces have sold for thousands of pounds. These have gone to collectors locally,and to buyers as far away as Singapore.

The work in the exhibition draws on the influence of existential philosophers, including Albert Camus, and sets out to examine the courage needed to embrace life.

Having been delayed due to coronavirus, pieces within the exhibition also reflect on the impact of the pandemic and lockdown.

Sashka B Sheils’ work is presented on large canvases, and is distinctive for its masterful and often explosive use of colour.


Sashka B Sheils: 

“I can never truly know why someone purchases my work.”

“What I do know is that there seems to be a powerful quality in my art that stirs the desire to sit with a painting.”

“The person is not told what it is, what it means, or what it is meant to mean.”

“Instead the colours, the depth, and the layers may reflect back to the buyer something that resonates meaning to them in their lives.”  


Public Viewing

Strata is open from Monday 10th August to Friday 4th September 2020.

To book a viewing please contact The Alley Theatre, Strabane or visit



Movement Month video clips


Echo Echo Ensemble artists, Ayesha Mailey and Zoe Ramsey, worked with Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre recently to produce a series of basic movement exercises, stretches, phrases and sequences that anyone can practice in your own home or garden.

Thanks to Esther Alleyne and all the team at Roe Valley Arts for inviting us!

Have a look at the clips below and let us know how you get on!


Celtronic – Together:Apart begins tonight

For many music and arts lovers the end of June in Derry and the northwest has become synonymous with one festival over the last twenty years – Celtronic.

Echo Echo is pleased to have collaborated on and hosted many brilliant events with Celtronic over the years and we look forward to future times when dancing together and sharing a small space is possible again.

Full credit and best wishes to the Celtronic team for assembling an extraordinary line-up of local and international artists for this year’s online alternative Celtronic – Together:Apart which begins tonight (Tuesday 30th June – Sunday 5th July) and is available to all via multiple channels.

See for further info and in the meantime here’s a small selection of images from the last few years of Celtronic at Echo Echo Studios…





Image credits: A Beirne, E McLaughlin

Newbuildings primary schools project gallery

Echo Echo Ensemble Artists, Ayesha Mailey and Kelly Quigley, and Ronan McKee from Play Percussion recently completed a movement and drumming programme with two Newbuildings primary schools.

The course took place over 12 weeks through autumn and winter 2019/20 culminating in a sharing event with teachers, family and guests at Echo Echo Studios in February 2020.

Have a look at the beautiful collection of images from the final rehearsals and sharing event by Patrick Duddy Photography below.

A big thank you to the Derry City and Strabane District Council Good Relations Fund who supported the project and also to Council officers Pauline O’Neill and John Kerr.

And of course huge thanks to all of teachers and staff at St Columba’s PS and Newbuildings PS who were an absolute pleasure to work with, and to all of the pupils who took part with great commitment and had a lot of fun.

We look forward to the next time!

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Grete Smitaite Residency Report

Image by Alissa Šnaider
Grete Smitaite – image by Alissa Šnaider

Residency Grėtė Šmitaitė at ‘Echo Echo’

22 January – 7 February, 2020

My residency at ‘Echo Echo’ was a time of taking away the shields. I worked daily in the studio and received a balanced amount of encouragement and challenge by the team members of ‘Echo Echo’ in the form of conversations, studio visits and joining their practices.

I came to ‘Echo Echo’ after the talks with the artistic director of ‘Echo Echo’ Stephen Batts that made me realize that I strongly appreciate the principle thoughts on watching dance and from there on making dance that he has shortly shared with me, while watching works at ‘New Baltic Dance Platform’, Vilnius 2019*.

Having spent the time at the residency I can confirm my first impressions: ‘hey, this is valuable’ and add that the principles upon which the ensemble works are deeply thought through and rigorously practiced so that to be developed, maintained and further crafted. This in my eyes allows conscious artistic development of the ensemble artists and their works as well as builds ‘Echo Echo’ theater as a house for people – people who once start taking classes here seem to be strongly motivated to go further, know more. The approach to dance they experience here catches them as generous, interesting, powerful.

I feel strengthened by having had this exchange that I experience as a human to human encounter with the strong motivation to dance and know more about dance. In particular, I would mention the ways of being aware of and using phrasing and rhythm in dance as what allows dance to make sense.

I strongly hope to be able to continue further working with these in the future and spread the understanding and hopefully the further development of these in the circles of my colleagues as well as stay in touch and work with the team of ‘Echo Echo’.

I hope that ‘Echo Echo’ will continue working and will have the support needed to maintain their work and share it with more people. I strongly believe that most of my colleagues would deeply appreciate encountering the ‘Echo Echo’ way of working.

Yours Sincerely,

Grėtė Šmitaitė

Choreographer, performer


*Editor Note: Steve Batts attended as the representative of Dance Ireland and wrote a detailed blog about this. 


Echo Echo Residency Programme

All Echo Echo programmes are paused at present due to the Coronavirus pandemic however you can see further information on the Echo Echo Residency Programme here:


Echo Echo Festival 2019 Review

Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement 2019

Echo Echo’s annual international festival returned for a seventh edition in November 2019 featuring performances, classes and events in partnership with a wide range of artists, companies, venues and partners.


Video recorded and edited by Simon Alleyne.

Festival artwork by zoocreative.

Special thanks to all of the participating artists and companies for use of their video and audio – all recorded at the Festival.

0.00 Intro music by Manhan (Hikari Soma and Ichi-go Miura)

0.54 Let’s Play by Echo Echo Ensemble – Ayesha Mailey, Kelly Quigley, Zoe Ramsey, Tonya Sheina with Amanda Koser, Joleen McLaughlin, Stephanie Pawula

1.14 This Time by Ockham’s Razor

1.35 The Station by Ferenc Fehér

1.50 See Me Disappear by Ayesha Mailey

2.08 Wonderful World by Collective B

2.41 CAAKE and Body Wisdom artists

2.57 Solo Square Dance by Nic Gareiss

3.30 Cuck by Off the Rails Dance with Ryan O’Neill and Vasiliki Stanasiki

3.50 Almost Blue by IMDT and Oona Doherty with Steve Batts and John Walsh

4.10 Nascanna by Liam Ó Scanláin with David Doocey


Festival information:


Full list of Festival Thanks:


Festival kindly supported by: Arts Council NI and the National Lottery (UK); Derry City and Strabane District Council; Foyle Foundation; Department of Culture Heritage and Gaeltacht; Institut Francais UK (IFRU); Dance Ireland.




Friday 13th March 2020

Given yesterday’s unprecedented announcement by the Irish government and ongoing Public Health Agency updates regarding the coronavirus pandemic, we have decided to take the proactive and precautionary measure of suspending all public classes at Echo Echo Studios until further notice. At present we expect this pause to last until Sunday 29th March and we will be monitoring future government guidance as it arises.

Benno Voorham will show the work produced in his recent residency tonight (Friday 13th) at 7pm and tomorrow (Saturday 14th) at 8pm. This will be for a small invited audience and we will be taking appropriate health and safety precautions. If you would like to join this audience please contact us by email or private message. You may also call Steve Batts, Echo Echo Artistic Director on 07946586941.

Echo Echo Studios and office will remain open until further notice however staff will be encouraged to work at home during this period when possible.

This is a difficult time for artists, many who work on freelance basis, so we will strive to reduce the impact of this pause on the Echo Echo Ensemble and other artists we work with.

Physical contact is often very much the point of dancing and moving together and the opposite of ‘social distancing’, so while we may be a little ahead of the curve with this suspension we believe it is the socially responsible course of action.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best wishes to all of our audiences, participants, partners and colleagues at this time.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need further information.

Echo Echo Staff and Directors


Classes affected:

  • Echo Echo Kids Classes (Saturdays)
  • Circle Dance (Saturdays)
  • First Act Juniors (Mondays)
  • Echo Echo Adult Classes (Tuesdays)
  • In Your Space Circus Aerial Classes (Wednesdays)
  • Aikido (Wednesdays)
  • Echo Echo Company Class (Thursdays)
  • First Act Youth Theatre (Thursdays)
  • Body Wisdom (Fridays)