I’ve had a fascination with words and stories for as long as I can remember. When I first started volunteering with the Dublin Dance Festival in 2008 I knew very little about contemporary dance. Watching the performances I was often missing the language aspect in them. I felt confused, somehow excluded and was often left with a lot of questions. I thought that dance is a matter of liking it or not, like vanilla icecream or the colour blue, a more or less static thing. Since then I’ve started to see dance as a language in itself that takes time to learn and to appreciate like studying Japanese or Spanish. Three years ago, when I was just beginning to learn about contemporary dance I often struggled to feel any connection with what was going on on stage. This year I managed to see a lot more shows, attended the dance symposium and quite a few after show discussions and slowly but surely started to feel much more in tune with the creative process of dance and how it is shared with an audience.
Festival director Laurie Uprichard promised DDF2010 to be ‘beautiful and bold, wondrous and wild, smart and funny’ and as far as I’m concerned this year’s festival was absolutely spot on. There are many different factors that contribute to making a festival successful. The careful programming, the festival team (including the volunteers!), the marketing efforts, the behind the scenes production work and the audiences appreciating and engaging with the performances and performers. Laurie yet again put together a programme that spanned the complete rainbow of human emotions and diverse, creative expressions of movement. The atmosphere at the venues, especially the Project Arts Centre, was buzzing with the energy of those showcasing their work, those facilitating the experience and those coming to be delighted, challenged and mesmerised. And as a volunteer I felt appreciated, included and privileged to be part of a wonderful team and an event which might be no more than a niche interest to most, but can be a springboard for each of us to develop a greater appreciation of what it is to be human.
I see festivals as a temporary universe of creativity, enjoyment and learning. This is why this blog exists. In my life there is no word for ‘boredom’. Life is full of new things to try out and new passions to discover. It’s always up to each of us what we make of experiences and ideas that surround us on a daily basis. Festivals are great places to dip a toe in the water so to speak, let go of some of your old routines and adopt some new ones. It’s never too late to do that and most definitely doesn’t require any special ‘talent’. We are all born with the talent to live a meaningful life. The only thing we need is a little bit of open-mindedness. Look around you at the people you spend your life with. It’s such a great pity that many of us, including moi, do not reach out more to those who are different from us, who we could learn so much from. For some reason a lot of us enjoy being competitive and exclusionary in order to mark our territory and set ourselves apart from others not realising that doing the opposite might be so much more beneficial, not least to ourselves. So if you’re a dancer or an architect, a shop assistant or a biologist try stepping out of your own box for a little while and invite those on the outside into your me-centred universe. I love interdisciplinarity and crossing boundaries. It’s not always the easiest path in life, but often the most interesting. And one thing is for sure: there really is no right or wrong way to experience the world and no form of expressing human emotions is superior to any other. As far as I’m concerned it’s all about seeing the endless potential in everything, listening out for hidden connections and simply enjoying the journey.
‘Who says what’s beautiful?’, a question choreographer and dancer Raimund Hoghe asked at the dance symposium during the week, was one of the most important red threads of this year’s dance festival for me. By celebrating what makes each of us unique we are at the same time recognising that we all have a shared human experience. Once we are open to this thought, life can be so much more colourful and surprise us with experiences we never knew existed. I am really grateful for having been part of the festival again this year. I can honestly say I feel changed because of it – in a really good way. Now I just need to go and book one of those dance classes that I promised myself to enrol in as soon as this festival is (sadly!) over for another year.
Some inspiration for your own journey into dance and wherever else it may take you:
Junk Ensemble (Ireland), Yvonne Rainer (USA), Vicky Shick (USA), Laila Diallo (Canada/UK), Heidi Latsky (USA), Caterina & Carlotta Sagna (France/Italy), Raimund Hoghe (Germany), CoisCeim (Ireland), Tere O’Connor (USA), Rex Levitates (Ireland), Beppie Blankert (Netherlands), Noche Flamenca (Spain), The Many Bodies of Contemporary Dance Symposium