Made in DublinProject Arts Centre, Dublin
In its 21-year history, Dance Ireland has evolved from a quasi-union for dancers based in makeshift studios to a representative body providing a range of resources in the purpose-build DanceHouse. It may have lost some angry militancy along the way, but these days Dance Ireland uses it's professional heft at national and international level to carve out important opportunities for dance artists to research and create.
Made in Dublin featured works by local and international artists created during residencies through the Europe-wide Modul-Dance network. Most importantly, the mini-festival offered an opportunity to view the works of emerging Irish-based choreographers.
Liv O'Donoghue's two dances reinforced the sure-footedness and sharp attention to detail that give her work a satisfying sense of completeness. The choreography always operates to its own inner logic so that no movement feels out of place, and her concept and its realisation are in constant harmony. Hear Me Sing Your Song is an exploration of belonging in a world of fluid identities. Two dancers and two musicians set up family portraits on two chairs, where co-existence seems uncomfortable in spite of the underlying tenderness. As they break off into solos and duets there is constant tension between the real and imagined community in which they find themselves.
TEN, a duet with O'Donoghue and Maria Nilsson Waller, is a similarly beautifully realised expression of real and imagined connections, this time between the two dancers' movements.
This sense of confident ambiguity, an openness to the viewer projecting connections or meaning where none might exist, was particularly evident in the Irish-based Elenna Giannotti's beguiling solo, The Look of the Dog. Here minimalist movements are tossed out as she weaves a web of simple movements that seem arbitrary, but coalesce into a deeper-rooted sense of completeness.
Outward confidence and inward vulnerability was at the heart of Philip Connaughton's Mortuus est Philippus. Wearing just boxers, his muscular projecting was gnawed by self-doubt and reliance on fellow dancer Becky Reilly's brief appearances to move him back to centre-stage. An experienced dancer - but new to choreography - he perfectly embodied the tensions between his inner and outer self, and found universality within the personal.
Aoife McAtamney's softer swells similarly shows embodied memories breaking out, carefully drawing her emotions in space through movements bound by inner conflict and tension.
Conflicting identities and physical memories are common touchstones for all four choreographers, who happily are feeding into an already exciting generation of Irish-based dance artists. Undoubtedly, the atmosphere of creative reflection offered by Dance Ireland (and its international partners) is partly responsible for the strong conceptual ballast behind their work. - Michael Seaver