CoisCéim Dance theatre company was founded fifteen years ago this coming February. I met with David Bolger and Muirne Bloomer who have been involved with CoisCéim from the start to ask them about their respective new pieces, Faun and As You Are, about their experiences with the company, and what the future holds for CoisCéim.
Could you tell me a little bit about your background with Coiscéim?
M: David and I had been long time collaborators in various guises before Coiscéim, and when David set up the company I danced for it initially.We found we worked really well together; we have the same ideas, but different approaches. So I’ve collaborated on a few pieces, and I was invited to celebrate the 15th ‘birthday party’ [laughs], and I decided use an idea I had about fitting in and standing out from the crowd. And then we were talking about Faun, and we felt that an evening of those two pieces would fit together well.
D: I suppose for Faun, which is the piece that I’m doing is based on a very short ballet choreographed by Nijinsky in 1912, set to Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. It was Nijinsky’s first choreographed piece and caused quite a stir, for many reasons. In Faun it’s the notion of the faun who’s a mythical character in a wood that is about to have a sexual awakening. He takes the scarf of a nymph who he’s fallen in love with, and makes love to it, and this caused quite an outrage, and this movement itself almost overtook the piece. It fascinates me the power that movement had.
What is like sharing a bill? Do you feel the shows have to be seen together, or would they stand apart as individual pieces?
M: Well, we’re both contrasted in style and approach. For As You Are, there’s no soft touch or voluptuousness, it’s very quirky. In contrast, Faun is very rich, with a heavy sense of sexuality and sensuality. Yet, there are still similarities; both are about humanity, As You Are is about flawed superheroes, which I suppose is just a human! And then there’s a strong sense of myth embedded in each piece.
How do you see CoisCéim fitting in with Irish theatre?
D: It’s flattering when people get excited about your next piece because you’ve created a high sense of expectation.And it’s that insecurity that drives you on.
We have a strong outreach programme, too, where we try to educate people about dance, because people think they don’t understand dance, but they do, everyone understands it naturally. And we are always taken aback by how creative people can be, with our younger group, Creative Steps, we’re frightened by the things they’ve done, it’s a really high standard. People can be creative once you give them that space to work in.
What’s it like working with the impending budget cuts looming?
D: It’s frightening. But I’m an optimist, and we’re staying positive and trying to focus on the work, and make the decisions which we hope are correct.
But we started like this, where there was no guarantee of any money, and there’s a fighter instinct there. We’re very proud of our work, and of our artists. And we have to fight, because without the performances, we don’t exist, we can’t just be an office. We’re fighting for the art and for the artists.
Words: Alan Farrell
Photo: Robert Catto