Bastard Amber

premiere Abbey Theatre
presented in partnership with Dublin Dance Festival & Abbey Theatre
DATES 25-27 May 2015
Photo credit Luca Truffarelli

Yeats may have established the Abbey, but tonight Roche has ownership of the stage… From the very first moments of the dance, she puts the body at the forefront…. Roche’s choreographic dexterity is at its height.


A ground-breaking dance production by Liz Roche Company that draws inspiration from two of the great Irish artists of the modern age, WB Yeats and Patrick Scott.

Co-commissioned by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin Dance Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival, the work's premiere at Dublin Dance Festival in May 2015 was a historic moment for dance in Ireland, the first time ever for an Irish choreographer to be commissioned to create a full length dance work for the main stage of Ireland’s National Theatre. A resounding success, Bastard Amber received fantastic reviews, standing ovations and was seen in the Abbey by President Higgins and his wife Sabine Higgins.
Bastard Amber Poster

A profound journey into humankind’s spiritual quest, Bastard Amber is filled with unforgettable imagery and stunning design, conjuring a lustrous Byzantine world of contradictory influences. It draws inspiration from the imagery of W.B Yeats’ poem Sailing to Byzantium and captures not only the evocative and arresting imagery of the poem but also gives voice to the modern vision that Yeats imagined in his own work for theatre. The work of other artists is strongly referenced in relation to this, most notably Patrick Scott’s iconic Gold meditation paintings reflected in the set and light design, contrasting the subtleties of form, space and light with the wild, stark, beautiful reality of the body.
The piece is a multi-disciplinary work where live music and highly innovative design/visual art took centre stage alongside sublime choreography performed by a stellar company of Irish and international dancers.

Following on from the Abbey performances Bastard Amber has since performed at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, August 2015, L’Espace des Arts, Chalon-Sur-Saone, France, as part of Festival Instances 2015 supported by Culture Ireland and toured Ireland to Town Hall Theatre Galway, Lyric Theatre Belfast, An Grianan Letterkenny and Lime Tree Theatre Limerick supported by the Arts Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The work was also performed by a younger generation of dancers through Step Up Repertoire Project 2016 (facilitated by Liz Roche) and at La Salle College, Singapore in February 2019 (facilitated by Sarah Cerneaux).

Bastard Amber is a stunning and beautiful production, worthy of its historic commission and a fitting tribute to one of Ireland’s foremost choreographers. Not to be missed.




Choreography and Concept Liz Roche  

Set Design Paul Wills (UK)

Lighting Design Lee Curran (UK)

Music Composition Ray Harman (IRE)

Costume Design Catherine Fay (IRE)

Musicians Zoe Conway, John McIntyre, Bryan O'Connell, Ray Harman

(with Doug Sheridan and Sarah Lynch -  Tour)

Performers Henry Montes (UK), Helene Cathala (France), Katherine O'Malley (Ireland), Sarah Cerneaux (France), Marc Stevenson (France/UK), Liz Roche (Ireland)  

More Info

Bastard Amber
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Dancer Sarah Cerneaux on
Bastard Amber's
Creative Process

Dancer Sarah Cerneaux reflects on her experience of the creation and performance of Bastard Amber in 2015, as well as her experience of remounting the work, on behalf of the company, at LaSalle College in Singapore in 2019

September 2014

First Day

First experience in English

First creation with Liz’s company

First time with all the dancers

First arrived…

            I am waiting…

                        I imagine…

I remember this almost missed departure.

            Try to calm me down


I feel full of trepidation, excitement and curiosity.

            I am waiting for this meeting with new bodies, new ways of moving, new imaginaries, and particularly this meeting with her.

                        I imagine the dizziness created by those first moments, like a fall into the unknown, where everything changes, everything jostles you …

And Henry enters. And Liz arrives. And everyone is there. It begins.

And Bastard Amber is been created.

February 2019

First time in Singapore

First time I restage a piece for students

First time that I have to take care of the classes, rehearsals, lights and costumes

First time I meet the students, the director, the stage manager, the light , the assistant an the main teacher

I am not the first on in the studio, some of the students are warming up already

The pace is intense. It is about, for me, transmitting to them some of my training, the Liz’s world especially and this rich adventure that was Bastard Amber.

And again, I feel full of trepidation, excitement and curiosity, but the enjoyment of stepping back into this piece and training these young dancers with me, takes over.

I find again, with a certain pleasure, each dancer of the original cast. I enter their world deeply. I explore their way of moving.

I remember us. I tell them.

I pass the torch

We chose, with Liz, to work on three moments that I particularly like:

. the four women

. the suffi section

. the displacement duet of Henry and Sarah


September 2014

She appealed to me from our first meeting a few months earlier, at the audition.

I looked forward to getting into her work. I was not disappointed

I felt this creative experience was going to be different from what I had experienced so far. I was right

She takes me into unpredictable spaces, where the outlines seem both nebulous (floating) and limpid.

I trust her but I feel quite often confused. Maybe it’s time to accept not knowing

It is uncomfortable and interesting.

I approach the creative process differently with Liz. It is a particular moment, full of impalpable consistency.

Be there. Be honest. Be whole.

We are all so different !

I observe her. I observe them.

They inspire me, question me, feed me, impress me.

It is disturbing and formative.


February 2019

I observe them. I try to understand their bodies, to guess who they are and what roles correspond to each of them.

It’s interesting to see how the evidence takes shape. Sometimes, all it takes is a micro-movement, or simply an unconscious expression, a way of listening…

And I know now. She will be Hélène, she will be Henry, she will Kath, she will be Liz, she will be Marc




We were seven, they are eleven. The puzzle begins (see the black notebook Liz bought me when we reworked the piece)

It is a very different experience from creation as I used to live it from the inside.

This is another gateway.

The sensations and particular gestures come back to me. I am constantly leaping back in time. My memory ignites.

And I keep asking myself questions

How to lead them, feed them, interest them so that they can find themselves the subtleties ?

How to arouse their curiosity and ensure this immersion in the world of Bastard Amber is not just yet another choreography that they are learning ?

How to share this unique experience ?


September 2014

There is this day, this improvisation, this meeting between two worlds that seem to me, a priori, opposed.

There is this eye, this intuition of a relevant choreographer.

There is also a bit of curiosity on either side … I guess.

I feel magnetized by this world, this uncommon way of moving in the space.

And finally, this duet happens


… A moment, a suspended bubble, still intact in my memory…


February 2019

How am I going to transmit the essence of this duet, of this particular moment ?

I give them more autonomy and let them understand the movements, the space between the two dancers and the bodies.

I give them time to understand this time …

And little by little, we talk about density, condensation, crossed spaces, distortion … and at one point the magic operates

A suspended silence surrounds this duet every time they perform it.

I feel it becomes an unique moment for them also and that touches me.


Sarah Cerneaux's Notes

We Are The Makers
Episode 2

This audio documentary hosted by Irish broadcaster Donal Dineen, charts the arc of Liz’s journey in the contemporary dance world, focusing on two specific creations, Bastard Amber and Dēmos, films of separation and togetherness.
Commissioned by Solas Nua, Washington and supported by Culture Ireland 2021.

Listen Here

We are proud of our partners.

Liz Roche Company is strategically funded by the Arts Council and supported by Dublin City Council