CoisCéim captures life's rich 'Pageant '
The idea for Pageant (above) came about when David Bolger and Muirne Bloomer were working on the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in 2003
Company’s latest offering transforms everyday struggles and mutual supports into spectacle
It is just before lunchtime at CoisCéim’s studio off O’Connell Street and the dancers are running through steps for a scene from Pageant, the company’s new show, which has been choreographed by David Bolger and Muirne Bloomer.
Bolger and Bloomer are in the thick of it, but on the rehearsal floor they are just another two bodies among seven; they are dancers as well as choreographers for Pageant, which transforms everyday life into spectacle.
The atmosphere is relaxed and remarkably democratic. As the men play out their parts, their female partners correct them, count them back to time, and make suggestions. The women are corrected in turn when the spotlight is on them.
“Keep it weighted,” is a popular refrain. “Am I doing that wrong?” a repeated question. The ensemble are rehearsing without music, but they are listening to each other’s bodies instead, using the mirrors that line one side of the studio to keep time together.
As lunchtime approaches, frustration gives way to focus, and the dancers start from the beginning of the scene again.
This time an original Latin composition from Ivan Birthistle provides a soundscape to the physical drama of personal struggle and mutual support that the dancers play out in a series of simultaneously unfolding duets.
In its raw rehearsal form, there are no costumes, set or lighting to give clues to a narrative unfolding, but there is something instantly relatable about the bodies’ alternate jostlings and leanings-in. Is this balance of togetherness and individuality not the essence of human relationships?
Table of origin
As the dancers break for lunch, Bolger and Bloomer discuss the origins of Pageant. “It was actually at a table like this that I first had the idea,” Bolger says, indicating the spread of mugs around us. The pair were working on the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in 2003, which they had been commissioned to orchestrate.
“We were sitting around the kitchen table using domestic props to figure out the flow and pattern of the movement on a microcosmic level,” he says. “And I was documenting all this in my journal. A couple of years later I came back to it, and thought this idea of ordinary objects standing in for something bigger was really interesting.
“But what if we approached it backwards, traced the large idea of the pageant back to the ordinary, to domestic life.”