Our costume designer Anne-marie Kilfeather on why you should definitely go and see Swan Lake / Loch na hEala:
You can go to one show this year, just one, and feel unbridled satisfaction for the rest of your days.
I saw Loch na hEala last year in Belvedere’s theatre during the Dublin Theatre Festival. I didn’t know what to expect, I just heard it would be pretty special and that the entire ensemble had been living together, not just practicing moves but breaking bread together each day and generally following a holistic lifestyle in preparation for performances. I was intrigued and rightly so.
The energy of that performance remains with me.
Live music was performed by seated musicians upstage, while dancers who moved as though channelling another realm, twisted and turned, even balanced majestically on breeze blocks.
It was mesmerising.
The simplicity of the colours in the costumes and set only heightened the tremendous prowess of these wonderful people as their stories unfolded. Every movement, from lightness to gut-wrenching torment was somehow translated through motion and stillness. I hardly remember the dialogue, even though it was delivered by the fantastic man that is Mikel Murfi.
I left that theatre with one thought, that I was so glad to be alive at that moment, witnessing it.
That is what great live theatre can do – show you that there is magic in this world and all it takes is being there to know this.
Watching a documentary on the making of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ album, I was struck by these words as they said what I feel about the power of being at a live performance. This was how I felt when I saw him live a few years ago, but it also applies to all live experiences. I felt this way when I saw ‘Swan Lake’ too.
I’ll leave it to The Boss and Patti Scialfa to explain it better. Patti begins by describing the live experince…
Patti: “First time I saw Bruce was in 1978. I’d never seen anything like that. It was shocking!I was surprised that you could be in such a large venue and still feel that you’re having a personal experience.” Bruce: “When you come out there in that dark, and you make that magic, you pull something that doesn’t exist out of the air. Doesn’t exist until any given night when you’re standing there in front of your audience. Nothing exists in that space until you go, “One, two, three, four, voom!”Then you and the audience together manifest an entire world, an entire set of values, an entire way of thinking about your life and the world around you, and an entire set of possibilities.That can never be taken away.”
You only need to go to one thing in the theatre for 2018 but perhaps go on the first night as you might just want to go again.
Swan Lake / Loch na hEala is here for two nights only, Wed 31 Jan and Thur 1 Feb. Tickets available at our box office on 0749120777 or online at www.angrianan.com.
After sold out tours in Ireland, London, across Europe, and Australia, Michael Keegan Dolan’s genre-defying contemporary reimagining of one of the most famous ballets in the world comes to An Grianán in Spring 2018.
Daithi Ramsay, An Grianán Theatre’s Marketing Manager, saw Loch na hEala/ Swan Lake at the Clonmel Junction Festival in July 2017:
“I had intended after the show to go to the festival club. Instead I walked the mile and a half back to the house I was staying in, open mouthed, silent. I sat in this silence for a long time processing what I’d just seen. It was the most visceral theatre experience I’ve ever shared. It integrates the music, drama and dance fully, and each of the performers excels. The story, such as it is, flows around the performers, anchored by Mikel Murfi.
“The story draws from the Children of Lír and Swan Lake, which they have firmly rooted in the bogs of the Irish midlands. There is a lovely mythical Irish quality to much of it but for me it’s the influence of the tragic story of Bridgie Cleary that stayed with me. The intensity of these pieces will stay with me for a very long time, and Mikel Murfi’s expressions in particular. As will remain my surprise at the many unexpected moments, some of them so beautiful and uplifting. This is the very best that theatre has to offer you really should come and see it.
“From where I sat in the front row I looked around at the audience: everyone was sitting forward, hands on their knees, rapt. When it was funny they laughed loudly and naturally; when it was disturbing they were on edge; when it was uplifting they were overjoyed. I wish I had photos of their faces to show you. At the end many wiped away tears while smiling. It was as if we had been plugged straight into the mains of the company and the show’s creator Michael Keegan Dolan and then all of a sudden we were released, but the feeling, the emotions, the thoughts remained.”
Swan Lake/Loch na hEala can be seen at An Grianan on Wed 31 Jan and Thur 1 Feb 2018. See the event page for further information.
We welcome the Liz Roche Company to An Grianán for the first time with the beautiful dance show Bastard Amber this Tuesday 29 November. Book now.
Bastard Amber is a multi-disciplinary work where live music and highly innovative design/visual art take centre stage alongside sublime choreography performed by a stellar company of Irish and international dancers.
This ground-breaking dance production draws inspiration from two of the great Irish artists of the modern age, WB Yeats and Patrick Scott. Co-commissioned by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin Dance Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival the work’s premiere at Dublin Dance Festival in May 2015 was a historic moment for dance in Ireland, the first time ever for an Irish choreographer to be commissioned to create a full length dance work for the main stage of Ireland’s National Theatre.
[box style=”yellow” closable=”un-closable”] What’s in a name? Bastard Amber is the name of a theatrical lighting gel colour that was created by mistake and discarded until lighting designer Louis Hartmann chanced upon it by accident. He loved it so much he asked the company to create more, referring to it as that “bastard amber you had.”[/box]
Bastard Amber was a resounding success, receiving fantastic reviews, a standing ovations and was seen in the Abbey by President Higgins and his wife Sabine Higgins. The production now stands as a landmark event both for Liz Roche – who remains at the forefront of defining a new landscape for dance in Ireland – but also for Irish contemporary dance within a culture more noted internationally for words rather than movement.
Following on from the Abbey performances Bastard Amber has since performed at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and most recently at the prestigious Espace des Arts, Chalon- Sur-Saone, France, as part of Festival Instances 2015 supported by Culture Ireland.
Bastard Amber is filled with unforgettable imagery and stunning design, conjuring a lustrous Byzantine world of contradictory influences. It draws inspiration from the imagery of W.B Yeats’ poem Sailing to Byzantium and captures not only the evocative and arresting imagery of the poem but also gives voice to the modern vision that Yeats imagined in his own work for theatre. The work of other artists is strongly referenced in relation to this, most notably Patrick Scott’s iconic Gold meditation paintings reflected in the set and light design, contrasting the subtleties of form, space and light with the wild, stark, beautiful reality of the body.
Choreographed and conceived by Liz Roche, the work includes a cast of eight highly respected irish and international dancers performing alongside four renowned musicians from traditional, rock and classical backgrounds, an exceptional set, lighting and costume design from celebrated designers Paul Wills, Lee Curran and Catherine Fay and a specially commissioned score by composer Ray Harman.
In outlining her work process, Liz Roche writes: “ My first instincts around this new work were to explore the metaphoric power of gold – its texture, colour, permanence and its enduring symbolic importance. I was drawn to Yeats’ poem Sailing to Byzantium where the substance symbolizes a sense of magnificence, monument, endurance and his own eternal preservation. I found further inspiration in the iconic gold meditation paintings – menacing and meditative in equal measure – of visual artist Patrick Scott. I was particularily drawn to Scott’s Zen-like approach to space and light influenced by his affinity with the East – a passionate interest shared with Yeats.Perhaps because of the significance of creating a dance work for the Abbey Theatre, I researched the early manuscripts of the rarely performed dance plays of its founder WB Yeats. The cyclical and supernatural themes of The Dreaming of the Bones, opened a fascinating avenue of discovery for me. Yeats’ accompanying cryptic, modernist and intuitive stage directions, an indication of his radical spirit, which is often under-valued, began to form an abstract framework for the new work. Taking note that these themes re- emerge throughout Yeat’s work, and returning to Sailing to Byzantium, I decided to explore the universal and cyclical existential themes of the poem, heavy with the imagery of the body’s own journey through life into the afterlife, challenging me to consider my own ideas of physical and emotional stability in an ultimately unstable existence”.
ABOUT LIZ ROCHE COMPANY
Liz Roche Company (formerly known as Rex Levitates) was established in 1999 and is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary dance companies. Growing an international reputation for its finely wrought, beautifully crafted choreographic style, the Dublin based company presents the works of choreographer Liz Roche in collaboration with artists, dancers and designers of the highest calibre. An artistically distinctive and ambitious arts organisation, the company has produced over twenty original productions, touring throughout Ireland and further afield in the UK, Germany, France, USA and China, most notably being presented at the Baryshnikov Arts Centre and Judson Memorial Church in New York, the South Bank Centre, London, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and most recently a major new work Bastard Amber for the Abbey Theatre / Dublin Dance Festival May 2015. The company are currently in the creation process of new production “Time Over Distance Over Time” set to premiere at Dublin Dance Festival 2016 and afterwards to tour to Australia as part of Culture Ireland’s international celebration I Am Ireland, Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.
“Roche’s choreography is delicately woven but it’s threads possess an elusive tensile strength. Entrancing.” Donald Hutera, The Times
“Liz Roche is an artist with a serious track record…” Judith Mackrell, The Guardian
Love the performing arts? Want to learn more about acting, musical theatre, choreography and dance? And have lots of fun and make new friends at the same time? Then you should sign up for one of our summer schools.
McCool: A summer school of heroic proportions!
For an all round theatre experience join our pbm Performing Arts Summer School. Suitable for ages 9 to 21, this week long programme covers many aspects of what goes into bringing a theatre show to life. You will work alongside seasoned industry professionals and learn about choreography, acting, movement, vocals and stage craft.
pbm Performing Arts Summer School. Children taking part in a workshop at An Grianán Theatre. August 2015. Photo by Paul McGuckin. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.
At the end of the week you will perform in Paul Boyd’s rock musical McCool.
Commissioned in 2002 and first produced by Northern Ireland’s longest-running independent theatre producer Big Telly Theatre Company in association with the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, McCool celebrates Ireland’s superstar warrior, Finn McCool!
Staged as an exciting multi-media rock concert McCool charts the life of Finn McCool from his lowly beginning as an abandoned baby to his eventual position as Ireland’s first superstar. The show features an eclectic, non-stop mix of dance and pop music, culminating in a spectacular mega-mix finale. Songs include “Mythology”, “Gotta Grow Up”, “I Will Think of You” and “War”.
pbm Performing Arts Summer School at An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, August 2015. Photo by Paul McGuckin. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
McCool toured Ireland extensively in 2002 and soon developed a cult following across the country.
The original 2002 cast included Rachel Tucker who went on to star as Wicked‘s Elphaba in both the West End and Broadway productions. Will we have any future West End stars in this year’s show? Only time will tell!
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Former pbm participant and An Grianán Youth Theatre member Patrick Quinn performing in Enda Walsh’s Mistermen at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, February 2016.
“PBM is where, many years ago, I found my love for Theatre. As a nine year old boy, I came to the camp unconfident, doubtful and shy. The PBM leaders installed a belief system in myself that I still rely on to this day.I will never forget the day when Christina told me that all that mattered was that I followed my heart and it’s the best advice I’ve ever received. I was part of PBM for 7 years, and I made friends that I cherish and consider some of my closest friends to this day. I cannot recommend PBM enough – the experience and the people I have met through this camp has had a huge influence on the person, and the actor, that I am today.” Patrick Quinn, Drama Student at Queens University Belfast, Winner of Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Student Theatre Awards 2016.[/box]
pbm Performing Arts Summer School – Mon 1 to Sat 6 August – more info here.
Ballet Ireland Summer School
Our annual Ballet Ireland summer school gives you the opportunity to learn ballet alongside professional ballerinas from Ireland’s National Ballet.
Young dancers taking part in the annual Ballet Ireland Summer School, July 2015. Photo by Paul McGuckin. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.
Each day begins with class on stage with the dancers. Students become part of the creative process, helping to devise the choreography, create sets and costumes. This week will give aspiring performers a taste for all that goes into making a ballet and a peak into the life of a professional dancer.
The Ballet Ireland Summer School is suitable for ages 6 and older. Photo by Paul McGuckin. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.
Together with the dancers, the young performers play an important role in the creation of their own full length ballet which is performed on stage at the end of the week for family and friends to come and enjoy.
Young dancers taking part in the annual Ballet Ireland Summer School, July 2015. Photo by Paul McGuckin. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.
Novice and experienced dancers alike will learn loads about classical ballet and best of all you get to perform in a beautiful ballet at the end of the week in front of your family and friends. Suitable for ages 6+. Find out more here.
Is there any ballet more beloved and enduring than Swan Lake? Arguably the most romantic of classical ballets with its beautiful swan maidens and tragic lovers Odette and Prince Seigfried, you really can’t say you’ve experienced ballet properly if you haven’t seen Swan Lake.
This is the story of Odette, a beautiful princess, who by day is turned into a swan by evil magician Von Rothbart, only to regain her human form at night. Out hunting by the Lakeside, Prince Siegfried encounters her and falls in love with her. But will he be able to break Von Rothbart’s spell…?
This majestic story of love and tragedy, good and evil has enthralled audiences since it premiered in 1877.
This autumn our national ballet will present 25 leading professional dancers from Ireland and abroad in this breath-taking production which was loved by audiences and critics when last produced by Ballet Ireland and we are thrilled to have it back this November.
Swan Lake will always be very dear to An Grianán as it was Ballet Ireland’s first ever performance with us way back in 2001.
Jane Magan in Ballet Ireland’s Swan Lake 2014 Photo Ros Kavanagh
‘Perfectly formed and translucent production of the romantic classic’ The Irish Times
‘Moving production…beautifully choreographed’ The Sunday Business Post
‘exuberant and beautiful production’ Irish Mail on Sunday
Dancers: Clare Bassett, Richard Bermange, Niklas Blomqvist, Katie Deacon, Hélène Douesnard, Haruka Fukumizu, Chris Furlong, Céline Le Grelle, Suzy Halstead, Garance Hurfin, Jason Inniss, Maria Ledesma, James Löffler, Paul Oliver, Kesi Olley-Dorey, Diarmaid O’Meara, Angela Revie, Michael Revie, Steffi Thomas, Sayako Tomiyoshi, Ryoko Yagyu
Apprentices: Kate Haughton, Aisling Kennedy
We are very pleased to welcome, for the first time ever at An Grianán, Ireland’s most acclaimed dance company Fabulous Beast, for a limited, intimate performance of their international hit Rian UnPlugged.
Produced in association with the UK’s Sadler’s Wells, in Rian UnPlugged, eight hugely talented dancers from around the world share the stage with five of Ireland’s top musicians in a joyful pairing of dance and traditional Irish music.
Next week this co-production between two of the world’s top dance companies, Ireland’s Fabulous Beast and the UK’s Sadler’s Wells, will be performed at An Grianán Theatre for one night only on Wed 24 September at 8pm.
This is a rare opportunity to see this popularly acclaimed show and as the company have requested that the audience be seated on the stage close to the performers only 60 tickets have been made available.
Rian UnPlugged is directed and choreographed by Michael Keegan-Dolan with musical direction from Liam Ó Maonlaí. It is an expressive cultural hybrid, tapping into Irish traditions with influences from faraway places.
Winner of a 2013 Bessie (New York Dance and Performance Award) for Outstanding Production, Rian premiered in the Dublin Theatre Festival in 2011. It has toured to the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Italy, USA, Austria, France, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Co-produced by Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre and Sadler’s Wells, London, Rian Unplugged at An Grianán Letterkenny Sept 2014
Rian has been seen and loved by more than 40,000 people across the world. This ‘unplugged’ version is performed with a new intimacy, bringing the audience up close to the performance.
Described as “one of the most daring and highly original dance theatre companies in the world,” (Times) Fabulous Beast is an international ensemble based in County Longford, led by artistic director Michael Keegan-Dolan.
Supported by an Arts Council Touring Award.
To find out more or to become one of the lucky 60 people to experience this famous company live call An Grianán Theatre’s box office on 0749120777 or book online now.
Fáilte go dtí Amharclann An Ghrianán! Located in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, An Grianán Theatre is an integral part of the county’s thriving cultural life and a flagship venue in the North West of Ireland.
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