Review: Chalk at Dance Limerick & Upcoming events

dance_limk_theo_clinkard_picI haven’t been going to see too many theatrical or dance performances so far this year, which is unusual for me so I was delighted to be invited to go to Chalk at Dance Limerick last Tuesday.

A piece devised and performed by dancer/choreographer, Theo Clinkard, accompanied by a live score by James Keane, it was inspired by the iconic chalk cliffs of the south coast of England and in tune with the blurb, it was indeed an “inventive and intensely physical work”.

A quote in the description by Clinkard read: “I recently found out that the reason that chalk is white is because it is formed out of the minute skeletons of marine life, compressed over billions of years…You could essentially say it’s made of bone”.

This fascinating idea and its seaside, windswept setting was explored in various ways through dance, with atmospheric music (a lot of loop tracks) and sound effects recorded live with everything from trombones to stones. With every recording unique to the venue and performance, there is a certain unpredictability and that adds to the energy.

A particularly interesting sequence was when Keane recorded celery being broken up only for Clinkard to don a black Lycra suit with a skeleton on it and then move to the soundtrack of those sounds. It played on the idea of the microscopic skeletons being bashed around and also the tragic reality that death is ever present here. People regularly commit suicide by jumping off the cliffs and there are accounts dating back through the ages. He brought it right into the present by reading the most recent report by a local group, which patrols the cliffs aiming to help people in distress.

The ‘set’ was just a white diamond shaped area on the floor, which allowed for the space to be used to its full potential. The windows were not blacked out and the failing light of sunset added a nice ambiance to it. Any props were used creatively i.e. the tiny plasticine figure put onto an upright white trestle table to give an idea of scale. He also interacted with the audience by relaying information to people to relay along Chinese whisper-style. The show had a careful balance of seriousness and playfulness.

Everything flowed nicely and even the abstract elements weren’t indecipherable because there was a context and setting—evoked very well by the choreography and the production design. It was a thought provoking and enjoyable show.

For anyone interested you can watch a video promo of Chalk below…

CHALK from Roswitha Chesher on Vimeo.

The next show in Dance Limerick is Moving On by Spoken Dance, which is on this Thursday (23 April) at 8pm and on Friday (24 April) at 11am (tickets €12/10; group discounts available).

This is an evening of contemporary dance, film and performance, Moving On offers the audience an insight into the exciting, new and ambitious work of Limerick’s

integrated dance company.

“Following a period of examination and reflection into the medium of dance film, Spoken Dance will present live dance performance along with five short dance films which have been produced, directed and edited in collaboration with Limerick based disabled and non-disabled artists…Moving on uses film, movement and text to investigate choices around whether we allow our responses to define us or not.”

Two of the films represent the poetry of the Thursday Club of Enable Ireland, Mungret. One of the films was created by disabled dancer Danny Aherne as part of a research project where he was mentored by Mary Wycherley from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. The two other films feature very different duets between a disabled and non-disabled dancer.

The short film, A Sense of Pleasure, which features disabled dancers Mary Keogh and Deirdre Corry of Spoken Dance has been nominated for two awards at Limerick Film Festival. Another dancer, Antoin Cross, has been nominated for Best Factual Feature at Limerick Film Festival for This Integration– a documentary featuring Spoken Dance.

Spoken Dance recently launched integrated dance classes at Dance Limerick which are open to disabled and non-disabled participants. It is a professional company of disabled and non-disabled dancers led by Lisa Cahill and Mary Hartney. Spoken Dance has been creating and performing new, original contemporary dance works since 2011.

On the 30th April—the collaborative dance project, Sum of Parts, is on in the venue. This will see the culmination of a collaboration of Megan Kennedy, Limerick’s Dance Artist-in-Residence co-ordinating with 10 professional dance artists based in Limerick.

For more information on Dance Limerick and events there, see www.dancelimerick.ie.

Elemental Festival to set Limerick alight this Saturday.

The inaugural Elemental Arts and Culture Festival will be on this Saturday, September 15 in various locations around the city. The programme (see end of post) is very exciting with a diverse selection of events taking in street performance, comedy, theatre, storytelling, dance, heritage and much more.

I mentioned some highlights in a previous post including yoga and Tai Chi in People’s Park; a fun day in the Frank McCourt Museum; a talk about unsung heroine, Lady Heath; street entertainment; collecting stories about the River Shannon; the ‘Big Sing’ and demonstrations of forgotten skills. More events have been added since.

There will be a Seasonal Tapas Demonstration—an informative and fun demo on preparing tapas for all occasions—at No 1 Pery Square (€15; booking required; more info at www.oneperysquare.com). Limerick Writers’ Centre will host a Storytelling Playshop with The Oh-Aissieux (booking required; more info from limerickwriterscentre@gmail.com). Limerick City Gallery of Art and Whelan’s Cameras are some of the other venues for events.

There will be a performance by Patterns Dance Collective in the Daghdha Space. This company consists of contemporary dance artists with mental disabilities and/or Down syndrome. They are service users in centres around Limerick City under the umbrella of the Daughters of Charity and have enjoyed a long and successful history of performing locally, nationally and internationally. More info on Facebook.

The Elemental Comedy Lounge in Dolan’s Upstairs will feature the talents of Joe Rooney, Fergal Costello and Choke Comedy Improv (€8-10; can book online) and Ham Sandwich play the Warehouse (€7-10; can book online). More info on www.dolans.ie.

King John’s castle will become the focus of the finale with a spectacular event called Night of Fires. There will be a number of fire-based performances throughout the evening with a variety of performers within the castle grounds. Local magician and escape artist, Steve Spade, will bring the evening to a rousing finish with a debut performance of his illusion, ‘Sacrifice’. In this illusion, he will have to fight for his life to escape being burned at the stake (€6.05; booking required at http://elementallimerick.eventbrite.ie/).

The programme is embedded below but make sure to keep an eye on the festival Facebook page and website for updates. Congratulations and best of luck to the Elemental team.

Elemental Arts and Culture Festival (September 15)

There’s a new local event for your calendar—the Elemental Arts and Culture Festival—which will take a place on September 15

The inaugural festival aims to embrace art in all its forms, with a focus on performance and ‘being green’.

The events are incredibly diverse so there is something for everyone. The day will start at 10am with laughter yoga, Tai Chi and dance classes in the People’s Park. The Frank McCourt Museum is hosting a interactive fun day from 12-3pm. No. 1 Pery Square will host a talk at 2.30pm about pioneering Limerick woman, Lady Mary Heath, who was an Olympian and an aviator back in the twenties. The hotel is also having a cookery demonstration later that day.

Thomas Street and Bedford Row will be a hub for street activity with one event—a tea dance—organised by local actor, Myles Breen. There will be lots of street performers such as fire breathers, dancers, clowns etc.

The Daghdha Space is holding a ‘Big Sing’ with Kathleen Turner, the Irish Chamber Orchestra Education Officer, and a number of dance performances including one with clients of the Daughters of Charity. Dolan’s has a special gig on that night too.

Filmmakers are being invited to submit short films around the theme of the elements and those will be screened throughout the day in the George Boutique Hotel. From 11am-4pm, the Hunt Museum will showcase several ‘forgotten skills’ including woodturning and lace-making. Local playwright, Helena Enright, will gather information for her new River Shannon Project throughout the day in the Arthur’s Quay Shopping Centre and will present it in a ‘theatre of testimony’ reading that evening.

Although, this is the bulk of the programme, more events could be added and anyone who wants to organise/run something independently is welcome to.

One of the organisers, Jennifer Allen, said that the people behind it had discussed the need for a festival with “a broad spectrum of arts and cultural events, which the general public could participate in”. The title comes from the five elements of nature (earth, air, water, fire and metal) and many participants use one or more elements in their performance.

“Of course, the extra element we add in there is the people of Limerick. Their participation is all-important to make the day a success. Our aim is to bring vibrancy, colour and fun to the city for one day. There is also an underlying backbone of green ethos. We are encouraging people to use park and ride, bikes and buses for the day. We have a pledge too—for a certain amount of likes on Facebook we’ll plant a certain amount of trees. The city council are helping us with that.”

The aim is to hopefully expand year on year until the festival is several days long. The enthusiastic team also includes Alan Hogan, Pius McGrath, Zeb Moore, Simon Thompson, Maeve McGrath and Colm O’Brien.

More information on www.elementallimerick.com or Facebook.

Limerick will be abuzz with activity in September. From September 1 to 9, the Limerick Pride Festival is on bringing with it a plethora of information and entertainment events. September 11 will see the Munster heat of the All Ireland Poetry Slam at The Loft and September 21 is Culture Night with venues all around city and county taking part.