Echo Echo Chairperson’s Report

ECHO ECHO AGM – 3 OCTOBER 2017

CHAIRPERSON’S REPORT

A warm welcome to everyone to the Annual General Meeting – especially to Board member Deirdre Gillespie on her first AGM.

It’s been a very challenging year for the company in many respects – in terms of its economic survival, its work practices and its creative development. Both Steve and Ailbe have flagged up more than once that they have very real concerns for the future of the company.

Every organisation is affected by what is happening on the wider political scene and most particularly at our local government level. It’s an understatement therefore to record that it’s been a challenging year generally for the arts – with continued grant funding cuts as a result of austerity measures, the total breakdown of regional government – which remains deadlocked and on top of these crippling local uncertainties we have the added uncertainty of the impact of Brexit.

The lack of funding for projects and the continued reliance on voluntary projects, voluntary time and the goodwill of ensemble and staff means that the year was often more about survival than development. In spite of all this – given the core and programming resources available, the year was an undoubted success in terms of the artistic programme produced.  That the company more or less broke even is a real credit to the vision, artistic commitment and hard work of Artistic Director Steve Batts, to each of the Ensemble members from Associate Director Ayesha, to Kelly, Zoe and Tonya and to Barry the Technical Manager – and to the solid, sheer hard graft and calm creative management of Ailbe – very ably supported by Anna Nolan. Echo Echo is a small team that punches far above its weight in terms of its creative and managerial achievements.

That said – real threats to the sustainability of the company remain – but just let’s remind ourselves of the achievements of this past year.

FESTIVAL

The fourth Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement took place in November 2016 with an expanded programme of performances, classes and events including Chico & Shoko (from Japan), Rosemary Lee (from England – returning to Derry after making the seven-screen film installation Without here in 2012-13), Mary Nunan (Ireland), Ockham’s Razor (an award-winning circus theatre from England that wowed audiences at Foyle Arena), new work for children by Zoe Ramsey and Tonya Sheina, and new work by Leilani Weis and company from Barcelona.

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Tipping Point by Ockham’s Razor

Audience numbers rose significantly with over 1,500 watching and taking part over the two-week event. The Festival reached out to many venues and spaces throughout the North West, some for the first time, and helped create the feeling of a city-wide event. Venues included the Craft Village, The Playtrail, Foyle Arena, the Ulster University, St. Columb’s Park. A notable highlight was the visit of Japanese artists Chico, Shoko and Ichi-go to Donemana Primary School for a cross-community workshop and performance!

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Chico Katsube, Shoko Kashima & Ichi-go Miura in Donemana

The Festival commissioned Kelly Quigley to make an evening programme of new work with Echo Echo Ensemble. ‘Fractals’ was co-funded through a crowdfunding campaign that was supported by over 60 local people and businesses.

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Zoe Ramsey and Ayesha Mailey in Fractals by Kelly Quigley

Institutional support for the Festival grew with the Irish Government funding a workshop tour of Ireland to promote north-south co-operation.  Bursaries were offered to six artists from the island to come to Derry for a Symposium led by Steve Batts and to engage with a range Festival activities.

NEW WORK

THE COVE ALL- ISLAND TOUR: The company was pleased to tour a new iteration of its original work The Cove by Steve Batts and Dan Shipsides to theatre venues around Ireland in Spring 2017. It was Echo Echo’s first all-island tour for 10 years since Consequences in 2007! The tour was challenging in terms of audience development but very worthwhile in terms of development of the work and the company ensemble. This tour of the Cove welcomed Maria Svensson for the first time and reopened connections with several Irish theatres. Further international interest in The Cove has been expressed – with possible invitations to Romania in 2018.

Tonya Sheina in The Cove (image by Living Witness)
Tonya Sheina in The Cove (image by Living Witness)

IN TALL GRASS: Since 2013, resources for making new work have all but disappeared so it was encouraging to receive a Small Grant from ACNI to research and develop a new piece with Alessandra Celesia in the summer of 2016. After around 4 weeks of studio time, In Tall Grass emerged as a very personal and deeply moving documentary theatre piece that received some of the best feedback from audiences the company has ever received. So far the company has been unable to source funding to produce and tour the work. Producing new work by the company remains a clear strategic objective.

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Ayesha Mailey in In Tall Grass 

LOST IN FROST: The Ensemble, along with Barry (Technical Manager,) offered another week-long run of their original winter-themed fairy tale in December 2016 which received great praise and has been chosen as Mayor’s Christmas Event for December 2017 with performances in Derry and Strabane.

Lost in Frost schools performances
Lost in Frost schools performances

PARTICIPATION PROJECTS

As in previous years, Echo Echo offered a very wide and engaging programme of participation events at Echo Echo Studios and in the community – there were dozens of projects ranging from single sessions to more intensive long-term programmes and classes.

Echo Echo Kids Class - image by Patrick Duddy Photography
Echo Echo Kids Class – image by Patrick Duddy Photography

The Moving Schools programme continued throughout the year with regular projects in Donemana primary schools, and in schools across Derry from Groarty to Newbuildings, from Good Shepherd to Fountain. These projects were supported by Derry Strabane Council Good Relations Fund, the Department for Communities, and the Give Inc Giving circle.

Body Wisdom continued throughout 2016/17. The group created a new large-scale ensemble work (20 performers) with Echo Echo Ensemble and Echo Echo Kids participants titled Walk By in June 2016. The Body Wisdom ensemble took part fully in Echo Echo Festival and weekly sessions were ongoing throughout the year.

Walk By ensemble - image by Living Witness
Walk By ensemble – image by Living Witness

An outreach programme in autumn 2016 in partnership with the Acorn Fund and Waterside Women’s Centre engaged older people living in care settings. This project will be further developed in 2017-18 with funding secured from ACNI Arts and Older People programme.

Artist Residencies: Echo Echo Studios supported a growing range of artist residencies by local and international artists, music events and collaborations with Celtronic and Radio Ulster, and studio hires by individual artists and visiting companies. International projects with Italy Contact Festival, Moldovan company Voices. Projects in Russia also took place – to name but a few.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith live at Celtronic / Echo Echo
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith live at Celtronic / Echo Echo

FUNDERS THANKS

Thanks should go to ACNI for continued core and programming support; to Derry & Strabane District Council for funding through the Venue Fund, the Festival Fund and Good Relations; and to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation – which has recently renewed their funding agreement with the company.

BOARD / STAFF / ENSEMBLE THANKS

Grateful thanks are due to two outgoing directors – to Sinead Devine, after 20 years of dedicated service since the company arrived in Derry and to Matthew Jennings for nearly a decade of committed service on the board.

Echo Echo directors, staff and artists
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

Thanks are also due to the current and new directors – Cath Mc Bride, Paul Johnston and Deirdre Gillespie for their continued voluntary support and advocacy – which are absolutely vital to the company’s continuing work. A strategic review of the company was conducted with members of the Board and the staff recently and we will hear about that in their report.

A special thanks to all of the current ensemble members – Ayesha Mailey, Kelly Quigley, Zoe Ramsey, Tonya Sheina – and to outgoing ensemble artist Janie Doherty, and to all of the artists who have given their time and goodwill so generously to the company.

And last, but not least, a very grateful thanks for the excellent work of the staff team – Anna Nolan, Barry Davis, Ailbe Beirne and Steve Batts.

Margo Harkin

Chairperson

 

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Poetic Movement Intensive Week begins today

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A very warm Echo Echo welcome to artists, friends and colleagues from near and far who arrived in Derry yesterday and today for our Poetic Movement Intensive Week with Steve Batts, Echo Echo Ensemble and Body Wisdom.

 

“The idea of Poetic Movement acts as a way to re-focus dance away from attention to the body and its sculptural and/or private experiential  aspects towards an interest in people, movement, grammar, syntax and the processes by which we can create and understand meaning.

 

It moves the attention away from the strong dichotomy of dancers as objects or subjects towards seeing dance as a medium of deep communication. This is a core idea, reference point and theme in Echo Echo’s practice.

 

Exploring dancing through the lens of ‘Poetic Movement’ can offer an interesting challenge to mainstream ways of learning to dance, making dances and talking about dance.

 

It can help us to understand the way that the assumptions we make about what dance is and can be, and our habitual ways of thinking and talking about it are often very limiting both at the level of individuals engagement as audiences and participants but also for the development of the art form itself.”

 

Steve Batts, Echo Echo Artistic Director

 

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Thanks to Boris Leontyev for the photos.

 

 

Steve Batts looks back at a summer of international projects and development

 

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My goodness!  What a three months!

My spring was busy enough… seems like years ago… the tour round Ireland with The Cove, performing the most recent version of Old Bob’s Tale in Tralee at the Tocht festival… teaching a few days for the MA students at the Laban Institute in London… our growing residency programme at Echo Echo Studios… the Echo Echo solo evening in May… but summer has been even more packed! Here are some of the most interesting bits:

Time Between Metaphysics And Psychology

In early June I went to the first formal meeting of a project in which we join a collaborative, interdisciplinary research project led by Teresa McCormack, Professor of Psychology at Queens University Belfast and Dr Christoph Hoerl of Warwick University.

The project is called “Time Between Metaphysics And Psychology” and Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company joins Big Telly Theatre Company and Performance Art Group Bbeyond in being invited to engage creatively with the themes and specific materials of the academic research and to produce performance work from that engagement. I was very excited to be approached by Teresa at the funding application stage of this project because of my existing interest in metre, rhythm, phrasing and memory, ways of conceiving of time as a compositional parameter in dance and the relationship between time perception from the point of view of a dancer/mover and that of a watcher. I hope that there will be plenty of opportunity to deepen my understanding through engagement with the academics on these issues as well as the welcome chance to create a new work focusing on these themes.

The project runs until 2018 and the premiere of our new work will be in the middle of the project during 2018. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to find resources additional to the core money from the overall project budget so that we can include all of the Echo Echo Ensemble and the Body Wisdom Group in the creative process. The workshop meeting in June was a great beginning. The artists had an introduction to the themes of the research and discussed with investigators the scientific notions of time, the associated metaphysical debates, and relevant psychological research.

Contact Improvisation Festival Bucharest

Later in June I was teaching at the Contact Improvisation Festival Bucharest. I was specifically asked by the organisers to teach Contact Improvisation from the point of view of the “Poetic Movement” which is at the core of Echo Echo’s practice. Questions about Contact Improvisation as a performance form have been right at the heart of the practice since its beginning in the early 1970’s and the “Poetic Movement” approach gives some ways of locating Contact Improvisation practice in a general compositional framework. It was incredibly encouraging to get a very positive response to my workshop from the participants and from a number of people who watched the sessions and took copious notes. In particular I was really touched by the encouragement to keep on with this approach from very experienced colleagues who were also teaching at the festival. It has become a bit of a tradition for teachers at Contact Improvisation festivals to do a public, group improvisation, performance at the end of a festival. Everyone involved thought that the one we did in Bucharest was among the best they’d experienced as watcher or performer.

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Contact Festival Bucharest – image by Alina Usurelu
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Contact Festival Bucharest – image by Alina Usurelu
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Contact Festival Bucharest – image by Alina Usurelu
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Contact Festival Bucharest – image by Alina Usurelu

Russia

In July and August I was in Russia in part to visit family but, as usual, most of the time was filled with intensive creative projects and collaborations. My first two weeks were dedicated only to watching and evaluating the 190 submissions for the Open Call Evening of Short Works for the 2017 Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement. This was, like last year, both extremely demanding and very enriching. Of course the quality of the proposed pieces and the aesthetic, stylistic range was very varied but the overall feeling I was left with, after working through them all and trying to give each one honest and respectful attention, was one of great appreciation and humility in the face of so much creative effort, dedication, imaginative generosity and fundamental good will. From these 190 we will again have the privilege of presenting a wonderful mixed programme of 8 short works by artists from far and wide in November 2017.

Making a new piece embodying landscape

The next three and a half weeks was at Celestial Beavers Eco farm (Website and Facebook), a couple of hundred kilometres south of Moscow. This is a magical place set up by some dancer and musician colleagues (including Masha Grudskaya who joined our Motion Ensemble project in 2013). They are building from scratch a place with a perma-culture agricultural element and an artistic creative programme focused on dance, music and somatics. They are doing most of the building work themselves and learning as they go along about everything from water and waste management to techniques for building in wood in a place with temperatures through the year ranging from 30 degrees to -30 degrees (and more), to organisational and communications processes. They are an amazing and inspiring group and have already gathered a big following of people who like to come from the cities of St Petersburg and Moscow to join projects to camp and to be creative. The facilities are basic: compost toilets, communal outdoor kitchen, very little electricity and very (very) slow internet. However what you do get are stunningly clear starry skies, a big loop of river to swim in, new growth and ancient forest, a beautiful outdoor octagonal studio, a traditional Russian banya, wildlife, and good humour and kindness.

Celestial Beaver Eco Art Farm River
Celestial Beaver Eco Art Farm River
Eco Tour and Talk Beaver Farm
Beaver Farm – eco tour and talk
Beaver Farm meadow and forest
Beaver Farm – meadow and forest

 

The main project while I was there was to spend three weeks creating a new work with a group of five dancers with whom I have been working over the past couple of years. They have become a bit like the Russian Echo Echo, working with many of the same processes and concerns that we do in Derry. Particularly we have been developing work around the Poetic Movement practices in relation to ‘embodying the landscape’. This has an obvious relationship to the Echo Echo production The Cove and to the work we’ve been doing in the Body Wisdom Group over the past few years. We created what I think is a beautiful 30 minute work sourced in the textures and feelings found in the surrounding environment. We had no music (except one traditional Russian song sung by the dancers at the end of the piece) but the soundtrack was the buzz of the insects in the meadow surrounding the studio. Thanks to Jenya Dibovskaya, Masha Grudskaya, Nastya Saeevitch, Tanya Fateeva and Tonya Sheina for three weeks of intense, deep and demanding work and a wonderful spirit throughout. In this group there is an incredible richness of understanding of the potential that somatic practices bring to the creative process and working with these women has deepened my commitment to the importance of finding ways to activate that potential as a poetic resource as well as a resource for therapeutic and personal development purposes. We performed the piece, which doesn’t have a title yet, three times as part of a three day open workshop on Embodying Landscape which I led at the end of the process. It was a very interesting experience to show it three times at different times of day to the same group of workshop participants. For the participants it really seemed to deepen their engagement with the creative process I was introducing them to. The short solo pieces that they made during the weekend were really beautiful detailed studies. I hope we can find a way to bring the new piece Derry at some point.

Performance Beaver Farm 3
Performance at Beaver Farm – image by Yana KM
Performance beaver farm 4
Performance at Beaver Farm – image by Yana KM
Steve and Tonya in Studio at Beaver Farm 2
Performance at Beaver Farm – image by Yana KM

In the middle weekend of the three weeks I taught a two day workshop for adults and children together. There were around 30-35 people, about half children and half adults. I am getting more frequent requests to lead this kind of workshop in Russia and I love teaching this sort of group. There is always such a natural organic energy, enthusiasm and simplicity in the attitude to dancing when there is a mixed age range. It becomes a sort of folk dance event. It seemed like everyone else enjoyed it too.

Embodying Landscape Workshop 4
Beaver Farm Workshops for Kids and Adults – image by Alexey Dybovskiy
Embodying Landscape Workshop 7
Beaver Farm Workshops for Kids and Adults – image by Alexey Dybovskiy
Kids and Adults 1
Beaver Farm Workshops for Kids and Adults – image by Alexey Dybovskiy
Kids and adults 2
Beaver Farm Workshops for Kids and Adults – image by Alexey Dybovskiy

I did get a couple of days off… one spent partly cutting and preparing wood for the most recent self-built farm construction. The other digging out two blocked drainage channels…. and there was also one beautiful day when I could go on an adventure paddling in a small inflatable dinghy down the river that curves around beaver farm, with my daughter Dara her friend Vanya and Vanya’s mum Nastya (who is one of the dance ensemble).

After we left Beaver farm we stopped off for the afternoon at a children’s summer camp to lead a workshop. Marietta Tsigal Polishchuk is a long time colleague of Antonina Sheina and worked with her when they were both members of the Malaya Bronnaya repertory theatre in central Moscow. Marietta has set up an annual project with teenagers for orphanages, foster care and youth custody where a number of professional theatre directors create productions with them to be shown in professional theatre venues in Moscow. They have a summer camp where there is an intensive development of the work and then further rehearsals in Moscow lead up to a mini-festival of performances. This sort of project is quite unusual in Russia and Marietta is doing a fantastic job of managing all the creative, organisational and care issues that inevitably arise. I had a great time leading a group of energetic, funny and quite wild teenagers through a demanding interactive movement workshop including some Contact Improvisation, circle dance and physical theatre games.

After day back in Moscow, Tonya and I went on to St Petersburg where I had been invited to teach a weekend Contact Improvisation workshop. As usual in Russia the quality and depth of engagement of the participants was very high and we covered a lot of ground in a process that built on what I had learned from teaching in Bucharest about the application of the Poetic Movement framework specifically to Contact Improvisation.

St Petersburg CI workshop 2
St Petersburg Contact Improvisation – image by Alexander Koval

Looking ahead

So the summer was a busy and very enjoyable one in spite of not having much time for lazy summer holiday behaviour and the time was topped off very nicely when I heard, just before coming back to Derry, that another exciting collaborative project with academics had been successful in getting support.

The project is in collaboration with neuroscientist Carlos Herrera (who some might remember as the Purple Knight in Echo Echo’s 2011 production “The Chess Piece”), Professor of Dance Studies at Coventry University Sarah Whatley and Emilia Barakova of the University of Eindhoven. The project is to organise an academic workshop at the prestigious Lorentz Institute in Leiden, Netherlands, in which a wide range of academics working in the areas of, among others, dance, robotics, neuroscience, linguistics will participate in a series of practical movement-dance workshops introducing some elements of the Poetic Movement approach with a view to stimulating, through consciously embodied as well as analytic engagement, discussion around the theme of movement grammar and the possible relevance of a rigorous approach to movement grammar in various fields of research.

We are hoping that this workshop, which will happen in June 2018, will lead to a programme of specific research projects in several areas. I have led, taught and directed an incredible variety of people and groups over the last 35 years but this one, made up of scientists and other academics of a wide age range, is going to be a completely new experience. I am intrigued by, and a bit nervous about, the prospect of being responsible for the initial input of nine hours of workshop investigations to set the discourse going and give it some focus. I’m hoping I’ll be able to invite some Echo Echo and Body Wisdom members to come to Leiden with me for moral and practical support!

Festival of Dance and Movement

So now I’m back to Derry and working hard on getting this year’s Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement finalised. Over the summer the other Echo Echo people have kept a bit of momentum going and the main programme was agreed with visiting artists before I went away, but there plenty to do to make sure we have another successful festival. The line-up we have is again really great with a couple of very special events. Look out for the announcement of the full programme on Culture Night, Friday 22nd September.

Steve Batts, Echo Echo Artistic Director

 

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

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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] echoechodance.com 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

#EchoEchoFest

 

My Johansson residency at Echo Echo Studios

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“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

Sweden

www.myjohansson.com

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 https://oldfirestation.org.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 www.echoechodance.com.

Submissions

Please send us your proposal by email to steve@echoechodance.com and also cc it to info@echoechodance.com.

Closing date

The closing date is 30th June 2017.

Invitations

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.

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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

INFINITE PROJECT – RESIDENCY AT ECHO ECHO STUDIOS

“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] echoechodance.com”

 

 

 

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

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GEMMA WALKER BIOG

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 BIOG

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.

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