Echo Echo regularly hosts student placements, interns and volunteers from a variety of programmes, schools and institutions including Ulster University, North West Regional College, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Belfast Met, St Cecilia’s College and St Mary’s College to name but a few.
For the last fifteen years students from the University of Merseburg in Germany have been visiting Derry to work with Echo Echo in a wide variety of contexts and to live in the city. Past interns include Lena Weber, Sara Ertel, Vivian Brock, Dana Mai and Anna Dietrich all of whom have been exceptional colleagues in many ways.
Echo Echo’s latest visitor from the University of Merseburg is Freeda Gronowski and it has been an absolute pleasure to welcome her to the company. Freeda immediately immersed herself in Echo Echo Festival of Dance and Movement last November and joined the company on tour of Ireland in December for its production of Lost in Frost.
Freeda recently created the publicity materials for Echo Echo Contact Improvisation Festival and has been ably supporting an array of technical and administrative tasks in the company. We are very grateful for her support.
Here are a few words from Freeda and a selection of wonderful images she made on the Lost in Frost tour…
About four months ago, I decided I needed a new adventure. I cannot really explain what sent me on my trip to Northern Ireland, so many factors came together and created the opportunity for me to take my next steps. It all seemed so easy and felt natural. I longed for a country that I could discover on my own, my own way, without reading a guide or walking in the footsteps of others, everything to my taste and my pace.
For a total of five months, I would take the time to experience Irish culture, to fulfil my goals and hopefully become fluent in the English language someday. I longed to be free from everything and everyone, to do something for me. I wanted to get to know myself better, discover my strengths for myself and work with them.
I study culture and media education in Merseburg, Germany. I am now in the fifth semester, this is a practical semester. Our assignment was to collect practical experience for a certain number of hours, the subject was left up to ourselves, so I had the freedom to choose whatever and wherever I desired. From the field of educational work, music, theatre, film, photography, management, or radio, everything is possible.
A fellow student from my university had undertaken her internship here at Echo Echo in the previous year. I met her after her time at Echo Echo, we spoke briefly and she told me all about Derry and the theatre. This was enough to convince me that Echo Echo could be just right for me.
And now I’m here in Derry, and the experience so far has been wonderful. This city of around 80,000 inhabitants in Northern Ireland has already captivated me after such a short time.
In the early evening, the pubs are filled with local people and travelers alike, they drink fresh draught Guinness and listen to traditional Irish music live. The mood in the city makes me experience the winter and its beauty in a special way. The hilly landscapes in and around Londonderry elicits a feeling of serenity and security.
During the first two weeks of my time in the theater, I was fortunate enough to experience Echo Echo during the Festival of Dance and Movement. This was the perfect opportunity to get to know the theatre and experience the city in a unique environment. Echo Echo is the first dance Theatre I have worked with, I was not sure what I could expect, how is this theatre different to a dance theatre?
While attending the Festival I had a realisation of what dance theatre could mean to me, dancing and movements allows more space for interpretation, there is no wrong or right way to view a performance, to understand the complexities of the movements. Dance includes everyone, you do not need an in-depth knowledge of the art to be able to appreciate the performance, just go and get inspired. I’ve got my one way of seeing, hearing and feeling a performance, we all do.
I am learning a lot about patience, taking on new responsibilities and working as part of a team. This has all been made possible because of the amazing team I’m working with here at Echo Echo. We are a small team here at the theatre, more like a family, working collectively and coherently with each other, everyone is appreciated and inspired. I am excited about the rest of my time here, because I know I have a great team of friends, who I can talk to about everything and ask any questions that concern me.
I have learned so much from my experiences here and I am excited for the future. I now enjoy the English language, especially with the Irish dialect which is spoken here. Initially I had issues understanding the English language with this particular dialect, but throughout my time here I have developed an understanding of the language of the locals here in Derry.
My conclusion so far – I have found a great internship in a beautiful country and I am looking forward to the future.
Patience is the gift that comes when the time is right.
All images by Freeda Gronowski from Lost in Frost tour 2018