When I set up Croí Glan ten years ago, it would have been hard for me to imagine where Croí Glan would be today, or all the myriad of projects and experiences that have happened in the last ten years.
Its been interesting over the last ten years to watch how attitudes toward disability have shifted, and also how attitudes to integrated dance within the contemporary dance community in Ireland have shifted as well. Dancers with disabilities are becoming more visible now in Ireland. Mary Nugent is making her own solo work, and she just did a Dance Ireland research project. Mike Daley got an Arts Council bursary last year. And Linda Fearon who is working with us on our 10th anniversary show is about to do a project at Dance Limerick. Three professional dancers with disabilities from Croí Glan who are out there doing their own work.
Our attitude at Croí Glan has always been that working with diverse bodies is about pushing the edge of contemporary dance as an art form and seeing where else it can go. As a professional integrated contemporary dance company we are always challenging the assumption that we are a community group that’s making amateur work, where the focus is on ‘helping’ people with disabilities.
It’s been very important to us to work with really good choreographers, and our focus has been about making good art that people want to see, and that feels relevant to people. Work that touches and inspires people. I hope that we’ve stretched people’s perceptions of who can dance and what dance looks like, and of what dancing bodies look like. And perhaps inspired other contemporary dancers to feel more comfortable and more accepting of their own bodies and their own dance.
One of the aims of Croí Glan has been to work internationally as much as we can, and to have that international caliber of work. We’ve worked with choreographers from Ireland (David Bolger, Liz Roche, Fearghus O’Conchuir, Leonie McDonagh) as well as the UK (Adam Benjamin, Caroline Bowditch), France (Genevieve Mazin), and the US (Eric Kupers, Jess Curtis, Scott Wells, Kim Epiphano). We have a growing reputation as an integrated company internationally, and we’ve performed at integrated arts festivals in Switzerland, Finland, Miami, Minneapolis, and Glasgow. We performed at the SouthBank Centre in London as part of the Unlimited Festival in 2012, and last year we performed at the San Francisco International Arts Festival.
Its been exciting this year to work with David Bolger and Jess Curtis a second time. Jess Curtis made our first commissioned piece Asymmetrical Tendencies, which had 6 sold out performances in San Francisco, and David Bolger made On the Wall which we have performed in cities and festivals throughout Europe and the USA. As we’ve rehearsed these new pieces this year I’ve reflected on how much we’ve evolved as a company since then, but also how Croí Glan’s work is always about revealing what lies beneath, our authentic stories, who were really are, both as individuals, and on a universal scale, who we are as humans.
These new pieces Remote and Fancy Dress continue to celebrate our shared humanity, with a level of subtlety and depth. Both pieces ask complex questions. I hope the audience will leave feeling emotionally and intellectually challenged to ask “Who are we and what is our embodied experience of being human?”
Artistic Director, Tara Brandel.