‘Painting the Canvas’ – research and development intergenerational project in collaboration with Maria Svensson

 

Last week Ayesha and Tonya were working in the studios with their beautiful daughters on a research and development project in collaboration with long term Echo Echo colleague and friend Maria Svensson (via zoom!).

We asked Maria about the project:

” I was originally awarded a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland to research and develop a new dance piece for children, together with Ayesha Mailey, and to take time to up-skill my ‘Poetic Movement’ practice. The plan was to work both in the Echo Echo studios and in Culturlann Sweeney in Kilkee County Clare thanks to support from Clare County Council. As part of the bursary I would also attend the Baboró International Festival for Children in Galway. However, when I applied for the bursary I didn’t know I was about to get pregnant or that we would be experiencing a world-wide pandemic! Therefore, due to Covid restrictions and the reality of nursing a newborn baby, I had to rethink my bursary plans. Ayesha came up with the idea of me taking more of a director role which made a lot of sense.”

“I then had the idea of Ayesha working together with her daughter Naya, continuing a process I started in November 2020 when I was granted a HATCH 2020 Award from Dance Ireland. This award supported me to make a short video together with my seven year old friend Rosie Mc Hale Noone called Amongst Angels and Butterflies. In the video myself and Rosie move on a big bed sheet using crayons. This idea came from a piece I did for Cruinniú na nÓg 2020 funded by Creative Ireland Clare, which came from working together with visual artist Regina Carbayo as part of BEAG at Graffiti Theatre Company in Cork. Together myself and Regina created a short piece for children aged 0-3 called Paper-Pond Play. As part of the piece myself and Regina would use crayons, movement and sounds to unfold a simple story on a big sheet of paper. The children would then be invited to join us on the paper. I also created a piece using a similar idea with a group of students from Ardfert National School called Movement on Canvas which was performed outside the tourist office in Tralee as part of Cruinniú na nÓg 2018.”

“After speaking to Ayesha about having her daughter Naya join her, Ayesha suggested asking Tonya and her two girls Mira and Dara if they would also like to be part of the project which I thought was brilliant. I would join in via zoom. Because we share the same poetic movement approach I find that Ayesha and Tonya get me, and what it is that I’m interested in. Naya, Mira and Dara are all experienced dancers and also extremely talented which is helpful as the process is very short. It’s just beautiful to see them all at work. So far nursing my wee baby boy whilst directing these intuitive and brilliant dancers works really well and I’m excited to share our work soon with an audience in Derry as well as Clare, and perhaps with even more people thanks to technology. 

The piece doesn’t have a title as such yet but so far we’re using the term ‘Painting the Canvas’ which I’ve taken from dance artist Kirstie Simson. I love her work and the idea of painting the space with your movements.”

To read more about Maria Svensson’s work please see: www.mariasvensson.com 

The beginnings of a new site-specific work to be made in partnership with LUXe

This May the Echo Echo Ensemble began their research and development phase for an exciting new site-specific work which they are making in partnership with LUXe (Landscape Theatre and Processional Spectacle) and with the support of the Bank of Ireland #BeginTogether Fund. The work is to be made for, and in response to LUXe’s own home, a magical piece of land in Gortcormican, Burnfoot, Donegal. The Echo Echo Ensemble have spent their first sessions on this land exploring all its nooks and crannies, really letting the space speak to them and offer inspiration for their movement. To experience the energy of this space in its fullest capacity, the girls have been undertaking various outdoor pursuits connecting with the land and all the elements including climbing, swimming, kayaking, tree climbing and generally moving around.

The land is rugged and wild, boasting a wealth of trees, flowers, foliage and wildlife. In the middle of the plot is a large lake which surrounds an island. There is a pathway around the lake which has many additional pathways leading from it to a variety of spaces around the lake one of these being a natural quarry face, which offers a perfect performance space.

Ayesha Mailey of the Echo Echo Ensemble says:

“The research for this piece really builds on processes we started with our production of ‘The Cove’. The concept of embodied memory and imagination taken from experiences of the land is central to how we will formulate ideas for this work. It’s amazing to feel we are like artists in residence in this beautiful space and there is just so much creative potential within it.

Tonya Sheina from the Echo Echo Ensemble said:

“We talked about folklore and the fact that the Island was mainly woodland in ancient times, but this is no longer the case…..I really feel a sense of longing amongst the trees…..you can really understand why people might have invented spirits, elves and little creatures to inhabit such a place….especially at dusk when the shadows fall, there is kind of a different feel. All of this brings us back to a question that Mandy Blinco from LUXe put to us:

How does nature look at us?

There is always the idea of people looking at, and separating themselves from nature. It is natural for people to do this. But this question arises of how nature, which doesn’t have any good or bad, views a person with their sense of morality and all their ethics. This concept made us play with the idea of reflections and mirrors – to consider how we see nature and how nature sees us!”

A big thank you to The Bank of Ireland #BeginTogether fund for supporting the first phase of this project and to Mark Hill and Mandy Blinco from LUXe for their guidance and inspiration and gifting us their beautiful land to play in. We will keep you all posted on how this unique site-specific work takes shape.

Making Moves review and trip to Unanimous

On Saturday 12th March, Echo Echo held a public open day for the recruitment of ‘Making Moves’, a brand new Youth Dance Company led by myself, Janie Doherty, and my good friend and colleague, Zoe Ramsey.

We had six excited girls at the workshop and we had a great session with them, accompanied by the fabulous Mark O’Doherty of PORTS playing drums and sampling some 80’s funk. The girls all got to know each other, chatting away and learning new skills and choreography. Here are a few pics from the workshop!

Zoe and I were going to ‘Unanimous’ at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast the next weekend, a performance evening for all the Youth Companies in Northern Ireland to share their work, hosted by DUDance. Turns out all of the girls were up for coming with us! Horah! Off we went on the 212, pack lunches and smart phones in hand…

‘Unanimous’ was very inspiring and we watched what all the other Youth Companies had to offer, before dashing out and back for the 212 bus! It was a Sunday night and these girls had school in the morning! We all agreed we’d like to be performing there next year. We are now very inspired to start a new term of Youth dance classes after Easter – so big thanks to Mags, Louise, Sheena and all the DUDance team for inviting us all!

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The new Making Moves term will begin on Saturday 9th April at 2pm-3.30pm and will run for 10 weeks. All new members are welcome to join and no experience is necessary! Just come along to Echo Echo Dance Studios with a willingness to learn with some other like-minded enthusiastic teenagers.

Janie Doherty, Echo Echo Ensemble Artist