A fingerprint, a footprint… Any kind of trace

My impressions of Ireland are formed by two things: Once the Musical, and Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre’s RianAnd really, I ask myself, how is it I don’t live there/have never even visited?

I loved Rian when I first saw it at Sadler’s Wells in 2011. That was admittedly before I began writing (or tweeting even) about dance, so unfortunately no formal records exist. But I’ll never forget how smile-inducing the entire show was, how some Irish in the audience were gamely singing along, and how much I wanted to be part of the performance. It seemed to remind me – amidst the occasional weariness of dance training – of how enjoyable and liberating dance can and should be.

Of course, I jumped when I saw Rian in the da:ns Festival 2013 line-up! It’s rare to get to see a show twice, let alone one that I enjoyed so immensely (and I had the pleasure of reviewing it this time). I had the lovely opportunity of interviewing three incredible people who worked on it – choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan, composer/musician Liam O Maonlai and dancer Louise Tanoto – for a preview article I wrote on The Muse.

I sent each of them just three questions, and was pleasantly surprised to receive three pages of insightful, generous responses, of which I only used a fraction for the article. So I thought I’d share some bits which didn’t make it in, but were nonetheless wonderful to read.

I love Ireland very much. I am delighted I was born there. However it is very important not to over-identify with where you are from but it is equally important to allow your self to love where you are from and from this move out in the world and enjoy as many aspects of as many other cultures as you meaningfully can. – Michael K-D

Irish culture for one reason or another has always found itself bridging the cultural gaps and shining light on otherwise dark issues. We have a coloured history that we have just survived. Our language and music were made illegal under colonial/penal law yet our language and music still survive. We do not all speak it, but among those who do it is a great and profound language with an unbroken connection to a beginning. One of the great pleasures in my life is hearing it being spoken by those whose native tongue it is. This represents the greater nature of our country. – Liam O’ M

I think Rian celebrates culture in general, throughout the making and performing, it has always been about bringing our own cultures and sharing cultures together. – Louise T

Culture is a collective reaction to life . The show that we call Rian is an expression of how a culture works its way through a group of people not directly or genetically linked to that culture. Thus perhaps allowing the culture a wider understanding through the refinement and wonder of discovery from within. – Liam O’ M

There was such intensity of feeling in the space everyday when we worked. – Michael K-D

Music calms the literal mind and allows other possibilities of understanding. – Liam O’ M

One of the most challenging aspects of this journey for me was not getting too carried away on this tide of joy, to stay with it but to keep one’s critical and editorial faculties sharp and functioning. The feeling of joy in the room on certain days was overwhelming. – Michael K-D

But in reality I need very little other preparation for Rian because I think it already exists, for me it is about humanity and honesty. So when we are all there with the audience and the music begins then it is about a happening and to prepare is to prepare in some ways for the unknown or guide too strict a path… I find it very beautiful really, for the movements which are set to be re-invented in every moment because no two moments are alike. – Louise T

The best thing is that sharing Rian can happen again and again. – Louise T


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