United Fall

Black shiny hard shoes lick the hard floor, littered with crushed coke cans and debris. Sharing the same air, shiny faces, blood pumping together. Only skin is holding them back.

Dark days need ceremony.

"Gradually the conceptual dancehall becomes real as huge curtains unfurl around the stage area, enclosing both performers and audience in a smoke- fugged sparkle-filled space that might be comforting (or depending on your experiences and memories of the dance spaces of your youth) sinister. (Irish Times, 09/10/2015)

"With it's powerful moments, a rich minimalistic soundtrack and visually arresting performances, Dancehall is a stunning achievement that does indeed find it's moments of ecstasy" (examiner.com, 09/10/2015)

"Dancehall had the audience on it's feet in rapturous applause- an incredibly satisfying thing to see in the context of the Dublin Theatre Festival. To see something which engaged with Ireland's traditions in such a non-traditional way, really captivating it's audience, makes this one of the festival's highlights." (ayoungertheatre.com 10/10/2015)

Production Support provided by Dance Ireland.
Funded through an Arts Council Dance Project Award.
Supported by Irish Theatre Trust and IPB Insurance, Carlow 

Dublin Theatre Festival 8-11 October 2015, Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin.

Dancehall Dancehall Dancehall

Conception, direction, choreography and scenography:  Emma Martin

Composer: Andrew Hamilton

Additional sound design: Ivan Birthistle

Light: Stephen Dodd

Costume: Niamh Lunny

Performed by and created in collaboration with: Oona Doherty, Alistair Goldsmith, Arad Inbar, Anna Kaszuba, and Kevin Quinaou

Musicians: Crash Ensemble- William Butt (Cello), Lance Coburn (Piano) and Alex Petcu (Percussion)

Photography & video: Luca Truffarelli

Production Manager: Peter Jordan

Stage Manager: Ashley Smyth

Props construction: Roisín Page

Sound Engineer: Benny Lynch

Producer: Jen Coppinger

Co-Production: United Fall and Dublin Theatre Festival in association with Crash Ensemble and VISUAL Carlow.

Dark days need ceremony.

I met Andrew for the first time in London in 2013 and after having the opportunity to share a very brief collaboration we soon realized that we wanted to continue what we had started. Ideas have evolved since our early conversations, but one seed remained throughout: that we were setting out to create a dance concert. As we progressed it became clear that there was an energetic journey that interested us both. Very simply one that began stifled and ended in a state of pleasure.  We were interested in the words classical and hardcore. We toyed with the word joy, but quickly understood that “joy” is a haphazard (and fleeting) state to inhabit musically and physically.

Dancehall has grown out of my wish to reconnect the primacy of the dancing body with the psyche and to explore the influences that society and its conventions (religious, political and ideological) has had on our body’s rapport with the world.

The title Dancehall, is a nod to Ireland’s still operational Public Dancehalls Act, which was introduced in 1935 in an attempt to censor and govern Ireland’s social scene out of fear that unsupervised dances coupled with the imported music du jour would lead to sexual immorality and loose morals ["orgies of dissipation, which in the present state of legislation the police are powerless to prevent."].

One of the early influences was Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made me Hardcore, a film of collaged footage of UK dance culture from the northern-soul parties up to the rave scene of the nineties. What struck me was the beauty and virtuosity of the untrained and uninhibited body in an atmosphere driven by music, alongside the sense of community. 

This show is about the essential connection to the Self. It’s about triumphing over logic and reason and body power. It’s around the notions of muting the logic, a tantrum of the subconscious, an homage to and triumph of the body and a fascination with inexplicable unseen forces, both internal and external, which are much greater than us.

Our springboard was the tension between the external world and it’s forces that shape us and our behavior; and our internal desires. I was interested in the dichotomy between obedience and rebellion on a physical level. This led to the eternally fascinating opposition between order and chaos that exists simultaneously within all of us. The former being linked to reason and logic, typically associated with the male versus the earthly impulses of the self, associated with the female. An Apollonian/ Dionysian conflict.  Dancehall is an attempt to present a vision of both of these elements and transformation from one to the other. Order is upheld by rules and conventions, which in the first half of this work is driven by the score in its austerity and minimalism, and represented by the ritualized physical behavior of the dancers. Chaos or disorder is concerned with our carnal and primal nature.

Emma Martin, October 2015