Arts for Africa – Dance

2011-06-04 12:30

One thing Irish dance troupe Fidget Feet can’t be accused of is keeping its dancers’ feet on the ground.

Instead, the company creates spectacular shows that blend art forms - contemporary dance and acrobatics, as well as music, theatre and film.

The results can be seen at this year’s Festival in the form of Madame Silk, a piece of aerial dance theatre that pays homage to great women, and A Fairies Tale, a piece of public art that attracts young audiences into the world of storybooks.

Co-founder and principal dancer Chantal McCormick says: “I started to do stilt-walking in clubs before moving onto Circus Space, where I learnt trapeze and strops.

I had my first big break doing aerial dance, abseiling and stilt acrobatics . . .

by this stage I had well and truly caught the bug. I wanted to fly and dance and I wanted to do them both in the air.”
Her musician husband Jym Daly is the co-founder of the company and their eclectic collection of skills are what makes Fidget Feet what it is.

Says McCormick: “It is a mixture of all our skills, with Jym specialising in music, film, art, theatre while I tend to focus on the dance and circus aspects of the company.”

Madame Silk incorporates another ­aspect, in it the company uses fabric as an integral part of the show’s mechanics. “We knew we wanted to use fabric and film, so we started from there.

As we progressed it was clear that the show was going to be about women and silk.

“The trousers used in the show were invented by (choreographer) Fred Debs for her own company, and we use them to play with the idea of clothes being aerial equipment in and of itself.

“For the red section of the show we found lots of pictures on the internet and one of a woman in bondage stuck with us, so we tried to make some aerial equipment with fabric in loops... This section has generally become the audience’s favourite.”

McCormick says the shows steer clear of “ooh-ah” circus tricks and instead connect with audiences in a more emotional way.

“An aerial dance isn’t simply about doing tricks and waiting for the audience to applaud, but rather we seek to meld the art forms together so seamlessly that we transport the audience into a story or emotion so strong that they are mesmerised. We want an audience to come away having been moved, transfixed by the show as a whole.”

As for A Fairies Tale it is part of the company’s plans to grow audiences. “You can’t expect an arts ­audience to emerge from a vacuum. For Fairies Tale ... we are closer to more traditional circus, clowning, dance and theatre, but all with a Fidget Feet twist, of course.”

» A Fairies Tale plays on July 1, 2 and 3 at noon. Madame Silk plays on July 6 at 7pm 

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