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Acclaimed dance show inspired by poetry and art

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“Yeats didn’t like the obvious and he wanted to push boundaries,” says choreographer Liz Roche, whose ground-breaking and critically acclaimed dance show, Bastard Amber, will be staged in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre tomorrow (Tuesday)

Presented by the Liz Roche Dance Company, it’s inspired by Yeats’ poem, Sailing to Byzantium, and the Gold Meditation paintings of artist Patrick Scott.

Bastard Amber is a co-production between The Abbey Theatre, Dublin Dance Festival and Liz’s own company, she explains.

The Liz Roche Company previously performed one of her pieces on the Abbey’s smaller Peacock stage in 2013, after which the Abbey’s artistic director Fiach Mac Conghail asked her to create a show for the main stage.

That meant Liz was the first Irish choreographer to be commissioned to create a full-length dance piece for Ireland’s national theatre.

“People have described it as ‘beautiful’,” she says, and certainly the reviews for Bastard Amber which conjures up an exotic Byzantine world, have been fantastic since it premiered at last year’s Dublin Dance Festival.

Liz had been a fan of Yeats since school, where she felt a connection with his poetry “and I didn’t connect with much at school”, she says.

He was central in establishing the Abbey as Ireland’s national theatre just over a century ago, and had always been an advocate of dance, she says. He wanted it to be part of Irish artistic life in the same way as theatre has become.

Yeats’ love of dance is apparent in poetry such as Among School Children, where he puts the dancer centre stage with the line ‘how can we know the dancer from the dance?’, she adds.

He was “sensitive around the body”, she observes, and the lines in Sailing to Byzantium which observe that “An aged man is but a paltry thing/A tattered coat upon a stick . . .” reflect that.

“Sailing to Byzantium always stood out for me, growing up”, says Liz, adding that her aunt, an English teacher, used to discuss the poem with her so there was a really strong connection.

From in his 1928 collection, The Tower, it was written by Yeats “in later life when he was thinking about death and where he would be going”, says Liz.

There’s a sense of “him not knowing what would happen, but he’s going there anyway”, adds the choreographer.

“He is taking a journey into the imagination, getting rid of the body and sailing off into Byzantium, which had been renowned as a great place of culture and economy.”

In the poem, Yeats makes several references to gold – hammered gold, gold enamelling, a gold mosaic and a golden bough. These offered Liz a link with pioneering artist Patrick Scott, which came about almost by accident, she says.

“I knew about his art but not about his gold paintings. Through a friend I discovered more about his work and met him briefly before he died [in 2014],” she explains.

After Scott’s death, Liz spoke to his partner, Eric, about her Yeats dance project and asked if it would be possible for Scott’s work be a part of it, specifically the “Gold Meditation paintings which are very clear and very simple”.

He agreed, and these are “now almost part of the set design”, she says. “They are gold against a black background with clear lines and very beautiful.”

She then worked with set designer Paul Wills, lighting designer Lee Curran, and with Catherine Fay on costumes.  Ray Harman composed the music and is one of four live performers who provides the score.

The dancers are the most crucial element of Bastard Amber and Liz has worked with performers from Ireland, France and the UK to create the piece.

That involved in-depth analysis of the poem and Yeats’ lines such as the one about his heart being “fastened to a dying animal”, which created the picture of a person trying to break free of their body.

The troupe of nine (including Liz) also explored the eastern philosophies which he embraced later in life, and have incorporated Sufi dance into the piece. The preparation also involved watching the Peter Brooks film Meetings with Remarkable Men to explore sacred dances and the energy that can be held in the pattern of a dance, she says.

“Sailing to Byzantium is used as the structure [of the dance piece] from start to finish but in an abstract way, as if you are intuiting the poem. The best thing to do is sit there and let the images wash over you.”

Like Yeats, Liz wants to push boundaries by letting the dancers represent the energy of the piece, capturing its restlessness, its meditative nature and ultimately its peace.

And she’s delighted to have the opportunity.

“You don’t often get to make a piece of this size in Ireland because of the cost. Everyone came on board for it and it’s brilliant to have this opportunity.”

Bastard Amber will be in Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday (November 15) at 8pm as part of a nationwide tour. Tickets: €20/€16 from 091 569777 or online.

CITY TRIBUNE

Reeling in the years to celebrate iconic album

Judy Murphy

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Pearse Doherty, John ‘Turps’ Burke, Johnny Donnelly, Davy Carton and Leo Moran on stage at the Warwick, for the album’s back cover. PHOTOS: FRANK MILLER.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Galway City was on a creative roll, with the Arts Festival and theatre groups such as Druid, Punchbag, Na Fánaithe and Macnas expanding our creative horizons in all directions.

Down in the Quays Bar – then very much a local pub renowned for the calibre of its music sessions – a group from Tuam was creating waves and attracting fans, including Mike Scott of the Waterboys.

That group was the Saw Doctors, “all the way from Tuam”, and Mike Scott had encountered the lads when his band was in Spiddal, making the album Fisherman’s Blues.

They ended up supporting the Waterboys on a tour of Ireland and the UK and, in 1989, Mike Scott produced their debut single, N17, in Dublin’s Windmill Lane. Leo and Davy’s song about youth and emigration captured the experience of so many young people at that time – but it didn’t capture the public imagination. After a few radio plays, it faded away quietly.

“As a teenager, you’d have a dream of having a hit single,” recalls Leo Moran of that debut release. “But when you are writing songs, you become a bit more practical. And we were older and were gone beyond pop-star dreams.”

Their aim was simple.

“Our ambition was to put out a single.”

The group, then made up of Davy, Leo, John ‘Turps’ Burke, Pearse Doherty and Johnny Donnelly, had to earn a living too, and that wasn’t always easy.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Legendary trio for live Town Hall concert

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Máirtín O'Connor who will be joining forces with Frankie Gavin and Johnny Duhan for the concert on July 3.

Fans of quality music who have been pining for live gigs can look forward to Saturday, July 3, when Frankie Gavin, Máirtín O’Connor and Johnny Duhan will be on stage at the Town Hall Theatre at 8pm, for a one-off concert, Part of a Tribe.  The venue will have a limited capacity of 50 people and the concert will also be livestreamed.

Each of the three will perform solo works and collaborate on well-known instrumental pieces.

Tunes will include The Road West, The Queen of Sheba, The Belfast Hornpipe, Thomond Bridge, Joe Cooley’s Reels, and songs like The Voyage, Don’t Give up til it’s Over and The Beacon.

Part of a Tribe comes from the title of a song that the three musicians recorded with the cream of Galway’s folk and traditional musical community some years ago for St Vincent de Paul. Its theme of co-operation and team spirit is especially relevant as the country moves out of the shadow of Covid-19.

The concert will last 70 minutes and there will be no interval and no bar.

The maximum number of tickets that can be purchased per person is four. They cost €25 for the in-person event. Online tickets are €15/Online household €20.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Cowgirl’ love song that hits all the right notes

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The Raines, from left, Yvonne Tiernan, Ruth Dillon and Juliana Erkkonen.

The wonderfully titled Love is sublime (til it draws out its gun) is the latest single from Galway based folk-Americana trio, The Raines. Launched on Friday, it went straight to number one on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts in Ireland and number 12 in the overall charts.

It follows their debut single, 2020’s Bare Feet on Grass, which also reached number one in the iTunes singer-songwriter Chart and was Song of the Week on RTE.ie’s culture section, with over one million impacts on Irish radio.

The Raines are Ruth Dillon, Juliana Erkkonen and Yvonne Tiernan, all terrific performers in their own right.

Ruth (vocals, guitar, ukulele) who toured and recorded with Dolores Keane, is a former member of The Molly Hicks, and has three solo albums of her own. Juliana (fiddle and vocals) has been at the forefront of Ireland’s Americana musical scene and released seven albums with various groups, including one solo album.

Yvonne Tiernan (vocals and ukulele) has toured as lead singer with ‘The Chieftains’.

This up-tempo summer single again showcases the beauty of their vocal harmonies, strings and their overall rapport.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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