Think Tank. Why Solo So? Dance Ireland Dublin


A commitment to entering a space alone, to work on one’s own expressive art over long periods of time, to the extent that it moulds identity, shapes the contours of a whole life, and informs all one’s occupations – as performer, parent, citizen – defines a solo practice. I love that word ‘practice’. Throughout my early years it signified sports practice – training the body, mind and reflexes, developing facility, rehearsing skills. Skills are what you acquire when you take a talent and invest a lot of time and hard work into it.

everyone is going solo, together

Jeffrey Gormly (2010)

The focus for this think tank was on the solo dance artist with particular emphasis on the relational dimensions of solo performance, including consideration of audience, space, choreography, body, silence, sound and interaction with other artists and artistic practices. We invited Irish dance artist Mary Nunan, a seminal figure in contemporary dance in Ireland to curate.

Nunan invited Emilyn Claid to deliver a keynote address, entitled: SOaLOne with You. Claid proved to be a stimulating keynote speaker who generously explored dancing solo (with photos and video extracts) as emerging within a relational practice – from conception, through process to performance. Using herself as the primary example, Claid (an experienced solo artist, in addition to being an artistic director, dance academic, choreographer, and writer) asked some challenging questions of solo work, teasing out her understanding of relations between self/other and performer/spectator.

Why Solo So? aimed to provoke and inspire reflection on these, and other  aspects of solo practice. We opened our think tank to all those with an interest in dance discourse. Participants were drawn from a wide spectrum, including dancers, choreographers, composers, academics and artists from other disciplines.

Later in the day, we had performances (and discussions) from US/Irish based Cindy Cummings (who presented her version of a Deborah Hay solo: Beauty); Shared Material on Dying (choreography Liz Roche) created for performers Jenny Roche, Liz Roche and Katherine O’Malley – a solo/trio exploring the idea of the passing of a moment. From the UK, we presented Touched by Gaby Agis and Douglas Hart – occupying the same stage space, together they fuse their individual interpretations of dance and sound. Evoking the atmosphere of a live gig, moderator Willie White had his work cut out, trying to accommodate the many a disparate responses Touched evoked in the audience.

In the afternoon, a presentation and panel discussion, entitled Widening the Circle with visual artists Michelle Browne, Dennis McNulty and Nigel Rolfe, moderated by dance filmmaker Mary Wycherley shifted the focus to include reflections and learning from some visual artists. The think tank concluded with a studio presentation of Visita Guiada, created and performed by Cláudia Dias. A fitting end to the day, Dias’s performance still resonates as I type these words (we subsequently included the theatrical version at Project Arts Centre, as part of our Made in Dublin festival).

Event Details

  • Starting Date: 26-11-2010
  • Ending Date: 26-11-2010
  • Address: Dance Ireland, Foley Street, 1. Dublin (Ireland)