Thanks to Sinead Devine, outgoing Echo Echo director

Echo Echo directors, staff and artists
Echo Echo staff, artists and directors with members of the Body Wisdom group L-R Steve Batts, Kelly Quigley, Barry Davis, Marie Manktelow, Tonya Sheina, Ailbe Beirne, Majella Biernat, Ayesha Mailey, John McCartney, Sinead Devine, Margo Harkin, Dennis Golden

Sinead Devine was a founding director of Echo Echo when it was first established in Derry in 1998 by Steve Batts and the late Ursula Laeubli.

As Chair of the organisation from 1998-2011, and then as director, Sinead played a vital role in the company’s journey from resident dance company in The Playhouse, through many outstanding local and international projects, to an ambitious capital project that created independent home studios for Echo Echo – and through the many wonderful opportunities and challenges the building continues to bring.

Sinead founded and led the Body Wisdom project – a partnership between Echo Echo and the WEA which began in 2009, creating a space for older people to participate in quality dance and movement projects – weekly classes, regular performances and occasional outreach programmes in local care settings and with schools. In some ways this has been Echo Echo’s most successful project with a group of highly committed people who now meet regularly and create original performances. Despite the sad closure of the WEA in 2014, the endurance of this project and the development and dedication of the core group of Body Wisdom artists is a real legacy.

On behalf of all the staff and board of Echo Echo, we wish to thank Sinead from the bottom of our hearts for everything she has done for the company and for each individual involved, past and present. As was said at our little gathering on Friday – you have been an anchor for the company over the last twenty years and you will always be part of it.

Thank you, Sinead – we wish you the very best and look forward to welcoming you back often as an audience member!

Ailbe Beirne, Company Manager




Echo Echo Festival Open Call closes today


Dear friends

Thank you to all of the artists and companies who have submitted Open Call entries to the fifth edition of Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement that takes place in November 2017.

We have had a huge response again this year and as we approach the deadline a very full inbox. Around 150 applications received now so unfortunately we cannot reply individually to each submission.

Our apologies if you experienced technical difficulties or received error messages from Steve’s email address earlier this month but please be assured that all submissions to info [at] have been received.

We are looking forward to reading/watching your proposals and we will contact you should we require further information.

Today, Friday 30th June, is the closing date so there is still time to make a submission. Please follow the guidance here.

Thanks again from the team at Echo Echo



My Johansson residency at Echo Echo Studios

My-Johansson image

“This is my last week in residence here at Echo Echo and I have no idea where time has flown to. I feel like I arrived two days ago here in Derry, and not a month ago, which will soon be the case. At the same time as I feel like I have been here forever. Either way I had no idea time could pass that quickly or maybe it has all just been a dream- but I really hope not!

I have been amazingly beautifully welcomed here in Derry, and gotten to know the fantastic people here whom form this company. As well as been given loads of space to research and begin the creation of my new piece in making, Now at once, collaborating with sound and light designer Barry Davis.

There has been brilliant artistic development, exchanges, discussions and input with the company and I also got the opportunity to work with Echo Echo’s outreach programmes who willingly threw themselves into my suggestions and followed the journey offered.

This week will see more creation and a lunchtime-sharing-performance on Thursday 29th June and I am looking forward to not have ran out of my time here completely yet. I will truly miss being here and am hoping to come back again!

Thank you Tonya, Ailbe, Baz, Anna, Steve, Zoe, Kelly, Ayesha, Dara and Mira for having me and to Echo Echo for providing me with this fantastic residence – companies like yours are so needed!”

My Johansson


Upcoming performances by My Johansson

29 June, 13.00, Now at once, Echo Echo Dance Studios, Derry, Northern Ireland
15 July, 19.30, Negotiating space at ODF presents, The Old Fire Station, Oxford, UK
27 and 28 July, Nor I at Franje Arendal, in Arendal, Norway
4 August, 19.00 Commissioned works for Unga Dansare/Dans i Blekinge, Salongen, Karlskronas Konsthall, Karlskrona, Sweden

Echo Echo Festival 2017 – Open Call now open

Selection of images from past Echo Echo Festival Open Calls. Thanks to Living Witness Photography.

Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company is pleased to announce an Open Call for short works to be performed in the fifth edition of the Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement in November 2017.

We are looking for short performances which will be part of a mixed programme on the evenings of Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th November 2017. The programme will be the same for both of these nights.

Echo Echo Festival will provide basic travel expenses and accommodation for three nights.

Proposed works should be not more than 15 minutes in length.

We are happy to consider first performances, performances of work that has already been shown before, proposals for improvisation scores, projection/video work and other kinds of performance.

We don’t have any restriction on style or idiom but we are generally interested in work that is in some way consonant with, or an interesting challenge to, Echo Echo’s practice of poetic movement.

We are interested in proposals from artists with whom we already have a relationship and from artists new to Echo Echo. We like to approach all our invitees as colleagues with whom we may develop an ongoing creative relationship.

It may be possible for Echo Echo to offer a residency at our home studios to facilitate the making of new work or in developing previously performed work for the Open Call performance evenings. We can’t offer money but we can offer space and some technical/creative support. Sometimes we can help with accommodation by finding people to host artists in residence.

This is the fifth edition of Echo Echo’s international festival of dance and movement. In each previous year we have had a wonderful mix of work in our open call evenings. This has ranged from solos to sextets, from minimalist to highly theatrical, from improvisation scores to highly detailed set work, and from pieces of less than 5 minutes to pieces that have stretched our 15 minute limit a little. We are always open to the idea that artists whose work has been shown in the open call may be invited back to Echo Echo for longer residencies and/or to perform a full programme at a later festival.

We encourage you to send us the information on your proposal in the form that makes most sense to you. This could include biographical detail, written descriptions, working process, photographs, links to video recordings of work proposed and/or previous work (please don’t attach videos to email however small the file may be and if possible please send a link for streaming rather than for download). We feel that short “promo clips are generally a poor way to understand a piece of work so if you send a link to one of those please also consider sending a link to a video recording of the full piece as well. Please send as much material as you think is necessary to represent your proposal well, but do remember that we have limited time and we receive a very large number of them, so being realistically concise is very helpful for us.

Further information

For information on previous editions of the festival please search in the “projects” section of


Please send us your proposal by email to and also cc it to

Closing date

The closing date is 30th June 2017.


Invitations to successful applicants will be sent during August 2017.

Echo Echo Festival Thanks

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

ACNI PF logo

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.


Kelly Quigley’s journey to The Cove

Kelly Quigley
Kelly Quigley at premiere of Fractals

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.”

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.

The Cove – photos and audience feedback from Thurles and Limerick


A huge thank you to all at Source Arts Centre, Thurles and at Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick for an excellent weekend of performances. We had some great feedback from audiences there:

“Very enjoyable. By the end of the show I was there – at the cove!”

“Intriguing, beautiful, disciplined.”

“Very moving, it brought me through a kaleidoscope of emotions. I admired the beauty and control with which the dancers moved and the connection between them.”

“I thought the piece was truly excellent – the movement, the colours, the music, the stage. It was really engaging. Well done. More of same please.”

As always many comments about Dan Shipsides acclaimed stage installation which you can read more about here on the Irish Theatre Institute Highlights of Irish Stage and Screen website.

Still a chance to see The Cove in Dublin this weekend at the wonderful Project Arts Centre in the Temple Bar area of the city centre. Thursday 6th, Friday 7th and Saturday 8th April at 7.30pm. Check the Project Arts website for special double bill ticket offer.

The Cove set by Dan Shipsides
Steve Batts’ final directions for The Cove

Thanks to Barry Davis for photos.

Maria Svensson joins Echo Echo Ensemble for The Cove tour

Maria Svensson (2)

“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).”

Maria in her solo work The Importance of Shepherds
Maria Svensson in her solo work The Importance of Shepherds

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.

Maria is currently performing in The Cove which is showing at The Source Arts Centre, Thurles on Friday 31st March; Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick on Saturday 1st April; and Project Arts Centre, Dublin on Thursday 6th to Saturday 8th April.