REVIEWS

 

The Irish Timeswriters review the latest in the arts world

Niche

Project, Dublin

Choreographer Fearghus Ó Conchúir didn't set out to create a dance about the current financial difficulties, but it is just one pretty apparent reading of his latest work, Niche. The hour-long dance sets out to examine the common search for a personal niche and a safe refuge from the perils of ordinary life, but it sheds more light on what happens when one abandons that cubbyhole and when individuality is replaced by mutuality.

As the audience finds its own personal space on Project's benched seating, three male dancers - Mikel Aristegui, Stéphane Hisler and Matthew Morris - walk on-stage with a chair and mark out their space, emptying bags of possessions and creating individual enclaves so that a coat slung on a chair-back becomes a tent-like barrier. These spaces become refuges where the performers retire from the dancing to read a book, glug on a water bottle or lie face-down with a hood pulled over their head.

But this isn't where they are happiest; instead, they prefer to feel integrated and attached to the other dancers. At these moments, the movement is at its most joyous, like an arms-around-shoulders chorus line of kicks and lurches that roars camaraderie and bonhomie.

Throughout the proceedings, a solitary female, Bernadette Iglich, drags black refuse sacks of clothes and cardboard boxes along the back wall of the stage, ignoring and ignored by the other performers.

The resonance with today's uncertain financial times isn't just through the despondent street-life surroundings, but rather through a deeper sense that social moorings have disappeared and the moral framework that binds people must be recreated. Leaving behind the selfish exuberance of the Celtic Tiger for more stringent realities, the relationship between individual goals and the means to achieve them has become disjointed.

Similarly, in Niche, the dancers are drawn out from the relative comfort of their heaps of possessions to rediscover the informal rules that bind them, and finish up by creating a slow trio that shows a reassuring co-dependency.

But Ó Conchúir's theme is universal and his thoughtful choreography is robust enough to take any number of readings, whatever the context. Until Sat

MICHAEL SEAVER

Stephen Stills

Vicar Street, Dublin

There's something happening here. There's a man with a guitar over there, and all around us people are on their feet demanding a second encore.

Stephen Stills went through his back pages and, in the process, delivered a memorable, stunning performance.

It helped that Stills was low-key and unassuming, creating what they used to call a warm vibe. When you have played at Monterey with Buffalo Springfield, and at both Woodstock and Altamont with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, you have paid your dues.

Stills, voted one of the world's greatest guitarists by Rolling Stone magazine, was once regarded as an even brighter star than Neil Young. On his his first solo album, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton guested.

Stills's soulful voice has coarsened now and the features have weathered since those halcyon days, but this gig reminded us how classic songs and deft playing make for great rock music.

Solo and acoustic for the first half, Stills's voice seemed vulnerable and exposed on the open, Helplessly Hoping. But the power surged back for the traditional Scottish folk tune, The Blind Fiddler, and that introspective favourite, 4+20 (Stills joked that he was going to rename it 3+60).

It was clear that the Bush era has given some of the old songs a new potency. Find the Cost of Freedomcould have been discarded as a relic from another era, but it sounded relevant and urgent.

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, from the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album, was another highlight, with Stills's voice soaring and falling in turn.

Stills was backed by a full band for the electrified second half . The momentum built as his astonishing back-catalogue was rolled out. For What It's Worth has rarely sounded better, while the cool power of Love the One You're Withendures.

There were also bows to some of his heroes: Dylan of course, Tom Petty, and Joe Walsh, in a robust reworking of his Rocky Mountain Way.

Stills has had his personal demons. His penchant for substance abuse once led to him telling people he'd fought in Vietnam. And he is in recovery from prostate cancer.

Maybe he should have been a even brighter star. But this gig was a reminder of his enduring power. Long may he run.

SEÁN FLYNN