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Explosive dance show on nature of power carries noise warning

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Date Published: {J}

For a man who has become one of the leading lights of the English contemporary dance scene, Hofesh Shechter’s first experience of his adopted country wasn’t exactly auspicious.

The Israeli born choreographer arrived at London’s Euston station at 8am on New Year’s Day, 2002. The annual holiday meant that most people were away, leaving a city that was like a ghost town.

Hofesh was in London because his then girlfriend had wanted to move there. He was going with the flow with no great expectations.

“I didn’t have the money for a taxi to go to a friend’s apartment so we walked from the station with our suitcases,” he laughs.

Eight years later, the Hofesh Shechter Dance Company has been lauded for Political Mother the show that was created and choreographed by its founder for this year’s annual Brighton Festival.

Since its premiere in May it has toured as far away as Asia and Australia and is currently in London’s Sadler’s Wells.

This is a dance show that comes with the warning “noise levels may exceed 100 decibels” and begins with a lone warrior committing hara-kiri, so it’s not one for the faint hearted.

It also has a live eight-piece band that provide the music for the 10 dancers in Political Mother. These appear to be at the mercy of a dictator as Shechter creates “a noisy, brutal, no-holds-barred attack on power and its destructive, abusive agenda”, according to the UK Times.

It’s the first full-length piece from Hofesh, who received his initial training at the Jerusalem Academy of Dance and Music before moving to Tel Aviv to join the Batsheva Dance Company. He subsequently studied music in Israel and Paris and has since written scores for his own work.

Initially he worked as a freelance choreographer and In Your Rooms, the show he created for London’s three main dance venues in 2007, was nominated for a South Bank Show award and won the Critics Circle Award for Best Choreography (modern) in 2008.

He set up his own company almost three years ago and has been going from strength to strength since.

“I had a hope for many years to be brave enough to start to create,” he says of his move to choreography. “I had fear but I had to move beyond it.”

And he has. The response to this full-on show has been fantastic, but it was a risk, something he was aware of when he started.

“I was a bit nervous, because it could have gone either way. It’s not just about giving a good time to the audience but if the audience is in the right mood – and hopefully the show puts them in the right mood – they will enjoy the energy.

“Maybe people want a show that’s loud and angry, he feels. He certainly has aimed to explore the tension between people’s private lives and the “very well-oiled public system around us”.

As with all of his works, Hofesh began Political Mother by drawing on his own notions and things that were going on in his life.

“It has to be as honest and as real as possible.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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