Limerick vertical dancers host international forum to ‘bring art to the people’

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery


Limerick vertical dancers host international forum to ‘bring art to the people’

Rosalind Holgate Smith, from Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence, and Camila Hernandez, Verticalica, performing on the side of the Limerick Strand Hotel this weekend PICTURE: Oisin McHugh/True Media

IT’S not quite ‘dancing on the ceiling’, but it's not far off, for some vertical dancers who performed on the side of some of Limerick city’s most iconic buildings.

This weekend, Limerick-based aerial dance group Fidget Feet hosted Blank Canvas, a five-day event where Irish and international dancers, creators, directors and choreographers carried out training, research, workshops.

The aim? Exploring new ideas, with the goal of creating site-specific vertical dance routines on some of Limerick’s most iconic buildings, including King John’s Castle.

The forum is a way for the dancers to challenge public spaces, said Executive Artistic Director of Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre and Professional Development Manager of the Irish Aerial Creation Centre, Chantal McCormick.

“The exciting thing about being an aerialist is that we can work outdoors and bring art to the people. They can watch as we are creating and making new work.

“The idea behind the Vertical Dance Forum in Ireland is to change a public space into a stage to create a performance. When we perform on these buildings, we add something new, we tell a story about that building or site and then it changes that space for the audience,” she added.

This is the first meeting and training of its kind in Ireland, and is part of the Vertical Dance Forum project, an international network of seven vertical dance companies, which together host six meetings in Europe and Canada.

The meetings bring together dancers and professionals worldwide, to train and explore collaborative approaches in making new work. The project is co-funded by Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

And this weekend, the forum took to the walls of King John’s Castle and the Strand Hotel, training in vertical dance and bringing it to new outdoor performance spaces accessible for all to watch.

The group also travelled to the Burren in Clare to explore how a vertical dance piece could be created and performed in a natural landscape.

The Vertical Dance Forum includes Limerick’s Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Theatre, Italy’s Il PostoDanza Verticale, the UK’s Gravity & Levity, Croatian Histeria Nova Vertical Dance, Canada’s Aeriosa, the French Retouramont, and Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence from Wales.

French vertical dance company Retouramont created the network in 2014 and they continue to lead the project. The company’s lead choreographer, Fabrice Guillot, is excited about the outcomes of the project.

“Each country hosts a meeting to do research, workshops, and exploration methods and ideas. For me it is amazing to work on a site like King John’s Castle that is so historic and then in contrast on a glass building wall at the Strand Hotel,” said Mr Guillot.

In total, the project will involve six international meetings with 300 vertical dancers, and 2000 contributors, including dance professionals, artistic directors, choreographers, academics and university researchers.

The next meeting will take place in September in Croatia with the final two events happening in England and France in 2019.