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The Irish Times Alternative Facts of Irish Dance History

On Saturday I was a little shocked to read the Irish TImes Dance Critic contribution to “Culture Shock”, and provoked to pen a letter to the editor of the Irish TImes in response.  Here’s the letter.  

 

Dear Sir,


I was surprised to read your dance critic Michael Seaver’s assertion today: “in Ireland, where there is little sense of dance history outside of academia”. This strikes me as creeping ‘alternative facts’.

 

I, too, welcome Emma Meehan’s Live Archive project, but Seaver’s statement makes me wonder is he aware at all of the ongoing reclamation of the repressed Irish body in terms of dance history that Meehan’s work is part of?

 

As early as 2004 RTE Radio One broadcast my 5 part series of half hour documentaries“Nice Moves” on the history of dance and physical theatre in Ireland, featuring the participants of Live Archive (available to listen back to on my Mixcloud page). The series has been re-broadcast several times since then, on various RTE stations, and is also archived in the National Dance Archive at University of Limerick.

 

In 2006, featuring research kindly sponsored by Abhann Productions (Riverdance), my book “Irish Moves an illustrated  history of Dance and Physical Theatre in Ireland” was published by the Liffey Press and launched at the Abbey Theatre by Fintan O’Toole, as part of the 3rd International Dance Festival Ireland.  

In 2013, RTE Television broadcast my documentary “1943 – A Dance Odyssey” about forgotten modern dance pioneer Erina Brady to a prime time audience of 150,000 (it has also been screened at numerous festivals, from Galway Film Fleadh to Bealtaine Festival, to Dublin Festival of History last year).  In 2015, TG4 broadcast my hour long documentary “Damhsa na hEigeandala”/ “Dance Emergency”(funded by the Arts Council and TG4) starring Olwen Fouere as Erina Brady and featuring choreography by Jessica Kennedy which re-imagines 1940s Dublin Modern Dance (premiered at Galway Film Fleadh).  Berlin’s prestigious TANZ Magazine,  published the script in German and English in 2015, as did the Goethe Institute, spreading Brady’s story to an international audience. Supported By Culture Ireland, Lincoln Center NYC Dance on Camera Festival (now in its 45th year), screened Damhsa na hEigeandala before its opening film last year – happily spreading lost Irish dance history across the Atlantic.  

I am currently working on a project re-claiming little known Irish Modern Dancer, Lucia Joyce.

 

It’s strange your dance critic does not consider the above as offering the public a sense of dance history outside academia?


Has he fallen foul of ‘alternative facts’?

 

Kind regards,

Deirdre Mulrooney