”Hopscotch” Step Up Dance Project 2015 at Dance Limerick.

Pictured above (l-r): Hayley Cunningham, Amy Robyn Lyster, Jessie Keenan, Olwyn Lyons, Marion Cronin. Photo credit: Maurice Gunning

STEP UP 2015

Jessie Keenan, Olwyn Lyons and Marion Cronin; (back): Hayley Cunningham

Following five weeks of intensive training and rehearsals, Step Up Dance Project 2015 culminates in the performance of an engaging new contemporary dance work, “Hopscotch”, at Dance Limerick on Thursday 6th August at 6pm.  Choreographed by international dance artist Hélène Cathala, “Hopscotch” will be performed by young contemporary dancers Amy Robyn Lyster, Hayley Cunningham, Jessie Keenan, Marion Cronin and Olwyn Lyons.  The show will also tour to Firkin Crane in Cork on Friday 7th and DanceHouse in Dublin on Saturday 8th August.  Admission free.  Further details from www.dancelimerick.ie

“Hopscotch” explores the predicament of five individuals caught in a game where the rules are constantly changing.  Confronting the reality of being part of a group, they ask: How do we deal with rules?  How can we trick each other? How can we survive?  Do we struggle or surrender?  Although childish and sometimes unreasonable, the rules of the game reveal a framework which could be a metaphor for our lives: Games can turn to cruelty and a playground can become a battlefield, but with the start of each new game, joy and energy re-appear.  

Now in its fourth year, Step Up Dance Project aims to bridge the gap between dance education and professional contemporary dance practice in Ireland.  Open to dancers who have completed their professional training within the last three years, Step Up is an intensive programme of classes, development, rehearsals and performance, directed by a guest choreographer.  The project is a partnership between Dance Limerick, Dance Ireland and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick.

Guest choreographer of Step Up 2015 Hélène Cathala is a renowned French contemporary dance artist who worked as a dancer and close collaborator with Dominique Bagouet and Trisha Brown from 1989-1992. In 1993, Hélène co-founded the Compagnie La Camionetta with Fabrice Ramalingom, with whom she created numerous dance productions. She then initiated a collective project for research and experimentation, Changement de Proprietaire (Change of Ownership), in Montpellier. In 2006 she embarked on a solo career, forming her own company Hors Commerce, investigating the world of dance, theatre, literature and choreography.  Irish audiences recently saw Hélène in Liz Roche Company’s world premiere of “Bastard Amber” at The Abbey Theatre, as part of Dublin Dance Festival.

Commenting on this year’s project, Jenny Traynor, Director of Dance Limerick and Producer of Step Up, says “Many young dancers from Ireland train abroad.  The Step Up programme is a wonderful opportunity for them to return and re-connect with the professional dance community here. Those selected to participate work with a renowned choreographer, they participate in professional classes with some of Ireland’s leading contemporary dancers and they perform in front of an audience largely comprised of invited guests from the dance sector in Ireland.  This is a great opportunity for any young dancer who has the drive, energy and initiative to succeed, and for the audience to witness some of our emerging talent.  All are welcome and the admission is free, so come and see what some of our best young dancers are up to!”

Dancer Biographies:

Amy Robyn Lyster
Amy started dancing at a young age, attending local ballet and modern classes at The Bray School of Dance. Her interest in contemporary dance began when she joined Dublin Youth Dance Company in 2010 and, while finishing secondary school, she chose to pursue professional dance training in the UK.  Amy recently graduated from the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance at The Space in Dundee with a BA (Hons) Dance. In September this year, she will go on to perform with the postgraduate company of the University of Chichester, Mapdance, and complete her MA in Performance.

Hayley Cunningham
Hayley began her professional training at 16 with Northern Ballet in Leeds and subsequently transferred to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating this year with a BA Modern Ballet. During her training, Hayley studied and performed a wide repertoire including works by Hubert Essakow, Christopher Hampson and Sophie Laplane, and in collaborative projects, most recently Dido and Aeneas, as part of the Opera Project. Hayley will commence the Northern Ballet Graduate Professional Programme in September.

Jessie Keenan
Jessie Keenan trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and has an MA in Contemporary Dance Performance from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.  Her awards this year include a Professional Development Award from Cavan County Council, a residency at Shawbrook, County Longford and a commission from Dance Ireland to make Low_Lying for the 2015 project Mind Your Step.  Jessie regularly collaborates with artists from many disciplines including music, film, visual and performance art.

Marion Cronin
Originally from Cork, dance artist Marion Cronin trained at the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, graduating with a BA Hons.  She has performed with many choreographers and dance companies the UK, including Duka dance, D Project, John Ross and Matthew Robinson.  Since returning to Ireland she participated in the Step Up Dance Project 2014 with Michael Keegan Dolan and the Tipperary Dance Platform Lab’14, and performed in Dance Ireland’s Mind Your Step dance project at the Dublin Docklands.

Olwyn Lyons
Olwyn Lyons has been performing and teaching professionally in Dublin since 2009.  She holds a BA Honours Degree in Dance from De Montfort University, Leicester and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Dance Studies from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.  Olwyn has enjoyed collaborating with a wide range of artists in her professional career and has created new works for live performance and film.  She was recently awarded two research residencies from Dance Ireland, during which she collaborated with fellow professional dance artist Sibéal Davitt.

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