Näher... closer, nearer, sooner

premiere Dublin Fringe Festival
Commissioned by Goethe Institut Irland
DATES 20-23 SEPTEMBER 2018
Photo credit Luca Truffarelli

★★★★

a lithe interplay of vivid recollections” 

CHRISTIE SEAVER | THE IRISH TIMES

Commissioned by Goethe Institut Irland

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NÄHER... CLOSER, NEARER, SOONER

★★★★

“… exquisitely choreographed… “Näher…closer, nearer, sooner” resonates most powerfully, transforming the Goethe-Institut into a living, breathing, resonant space full of hope and memory.”

CHRIS O'ROURKE, THE ARTS REVIEW


Näher...closer, nearer, sooner is a site-specific dance piece commissioned in 2018 by Goethe-Institut Irland to celebrate the grand reopening of their newly refurbished Georgian home on Merrion Square in Dublin. A cast of fifteen dancers brought audiences on a captivating and emotional journey through the exquisite site, sharing visceral and moving memories, texts and dances.

Co- created by choreographer Liz Roche and playwright Shane O'Reilly, with sound design by Berlin based designer Roy Carroll and costumes by Catherine Fay, the piece explored the crossover and connections between the texts and concepts of W.B. Yeats and the life and works of Goethe.

Liz and Shane began the devising process with dancers Kévin Coquelard, Finola Cronin, Anne-Laure Dogot, Henry Montes & Senior Dancers from Dublin Youth Dance Company. Inspired by Yeats' notion that for a time, when someone dies, they dream backwards through the more personal deeds and thoughts of their lives, her...closer, nearer, soonerexplored the moments of significance that can and might arise on this imagined introspective journey. The piece encouraged audiences to think about the best moments of their lives, revealing the cyclical nature of experience and learning in Yeats' work, echoed in Goethe's poetry and observations on his early family life.

The piece premiered as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018, with a further run of performances in February 2019.

With support from The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Goethe-Institut Irland and Dublin City Council, Liz Roche Company and Invisible Thread Films have made a short film, Näher, based on the live piece. Näher is directed by Alan Gilsenan, with Director of Photography Colm Horgan and music by Ray Harman. The film's performers are Kévin Coquelard, Finola Cronin, Liv O'Donoghue and Grant McLay.  Näher will premiere in late 2021.

 
Supported by The Arts Council and Dublin City Council
Naher photo by Luca Truffarelli
Näher photo by Luca Truffarelli

 

“Nӓher… closer, nearer, sooner succeeds in marrying thoughtful contemporary dance with measured and precise theatricality. Liz Roche and Shane O’Reilly enveloped W.B. Yeats and Goethe within the rich dramaturgy of their piece, and the result is a refreshingly dreamy trip around the Merrion Square townhouse.” 

SARAH McKENNA BARRY, MY-EVENT GUIDE

★★★★

Dancers appear out of nowhere, then vanish. Shadows flit behind walls… in a lithe interplay of vivid recollections, stream-of-consciousness retrospection and guttural reactions.”

CHRISTIE SEAVER, THE IRISH TIMES

Performances

venue GOETHE INSTITUT IRLAND
DATES 15 - 17 FEBRUARY 2019
COMMISSIONED BY GOETHE INSTITUT IRLAND
Näher Goethe-Institut Irland Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 Photo by Luca Truffarelli
Näher photo by Luca Truffarelli

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Choreography Liz Roche  

Devised by Liz Roche and Shane O'Reilly

Costume Design Catherine Fay

Sound Design Roy Carroll

Cast: Finola Cronin, Henry Montes, Anne-Laure Dogot, Kévin Coquelard & Senior Dancers from Dublin Youth Dance Company.

Photography and videography by Luca Truffarelli

Video documentation by Paddy Cahill

 

Naher photo by Luca Truffarelli
Goethe Institut Irland Logo

Archive

Dancer Kévin Coquelard on Näher... closer, nearer, sooner Creative Process

What always struck me with the process of creation are these two strangely intertwined paths that are created: “Where you want to go” and “Where the rehearsals lead you”. Working with Liz Roche, I always had the feeling that she was giving full trust to her dancers and more particularly to the intuitions of their bodies. On the other hand, I always had the feeling that she was looking for something in particular, like a perpetual unspoken quest that she was trying to achieve through her various choreographic pieces.

Liz and I came to the conclusion, very early in our first collaboration, that our logic worked in very different ways. And so when words failed for our communication and misunderstanding reigned in the studio, the easiest choice was to trust each other because the meaning would come on its own at some point or another. I have to admit it worked more than once. At least to help me understand the work in progress. Having the opportunity to write about her work and having to find words to express it, makes me wonder if I understood everything correctly. Zooming in and out on the different works that I have had the chance to take part in, gives me a bigger picture and maybe a clearer idea of her work. I now wonder if each of these projects are actually a small piece of a larger painting. And if this is the case, I have this need to find the common thread that links them together.


Nahër… closer, nearer, sooner was a turning point in my understanding of what still is this mystery. This piece created in collaboration with Shane O’Reilly, took place in the new building of the Goethe Institute, originally an old Georgian house. As performers we embodied ghost figures who were trying to recreate moments of their past lives. Looking back, I wonder if this simple introduction isn’t a huge clue to Liz’s process: seeing movement as a moment. A movement can be altered by various factors: “who is doing it”, “to who”, “with who”, “when”, “where”, “how”, … and when that movement has gone through different stages of these detailed parameters, it suddenly becomes a moment that we, dancers, try to replicate and achieve as a kind of satisfaction.


As an example, I would like to talk about a duet that Anne-Laure Dogot and I danced in Nahër… closer, nearer, sooner. Originally this duet was created with Sarah Cernaux for I/Thou. When Liz asked me to teach Anne-Laure the material, we reviewed the movement in detail so that she would know what to do physically. But quickly I realized that for her to have a perfect understanding, I had to give her details that explain the story during the creation. And suddenly, this banal two-minute choreographic phrase became this rich succession of moments, with its own story: “this turn was added later so we could have the same timing.”, “My knee hurt in this position so we changed it into a roll. “,” we made that in March 2018 when Dublin was under the snow, it was almost impossible to go to work, the studio was freezing, we were all so frustrated”… And even before it became our duet with Sarah, it had been an improvisation of two other dancers during a workshop that Liz had given. Few Months after, when we went back working on the duet with Sarah, that story had an extended version due to what Anne laure brought to it. Later, itbecame a duet performed by 6 people in I/Thou. Later, it became a group section for 6 performers.

Having all of that in mind, her process makes more sense to me. And that explains what I find to be one of Liz’s greatest strengths: her ability to configure different parameters of a movement to bring life to it, the perfect balance between giving enough information to move and giving her performers enough freedom to find their own way through it. She does not try to create these moments but she lets them happen. And where I thought that creation had two different paths, through her process, Liz give me another way to think about it. “Where you want to go” should not be an expectation but a momentum to drive “Where the rehearsals lead you”. “Where the rehearsals lead you” should not be a final destination because there is more to unravel.

Kévin Coquelard – 2021

This contribution has been commissioned by Liz Roche Company

Costume Designer
Catherine Fay on
Näher... closer, nearer, sooner Creative Process

NÄHER….a memory

Sensations ‘being somewhere else’ – You belong here – The memory of love.

These prompts are given to be interpreted into costume. It’s about talking around the idea, giving it an identity, allowing it to travel between the thought and the imagination until it starts to take form.

Naher…closer,nearer,sooner was presented to me by Liz and Shane with these images to begin the process of designing costumes. Central to the production was The Goethe institute and it’s beautiful interior. The sympathetic restoration of the building resulted in a magnificent house married with a stunning modern annex that was to be incorporated in the piece through an underground passage. Both elements of old and new were to be represented. This intersection of visible/invisible was key to bringing these characters to life and how my contribution could correspond to these thoughts.

The ‘family’ of dancers that greeted the audience were ghost like, as though they had emerged from the walls of the house. Fabrics were used in tones of the paint work and patterned details that suggested the filigreed painted plasterwork that adorned the ceilings. The discussion became about how they might straddle both worlds. What signifiers could be used to relate that? It wasn’t about representing figures from the past but giving them an energy and sense of belonging to now too. By using the textured and patterned fabrics but keeping the shapes simple and relatively familiar to a present day audience, they could have an associate memory with something past, thus achieving both aspects, past and present. Integral to all these considerations is always how the dancer can move in the costume, there are times when some restriction might help and other times not. The original fabric for Anne Laure’s top was too rigid, it didn’t move with her and held a shape separate to her body. Another top was found that corresponded well to the rest of the costumes and gave her the freedom needed to dance unrestricted. Communicating these issues and resolving is a necessary part of collaboration and one that can only serve to improve the final result.

Being in the now/present – Ghosts/The dead dream back – The best moment of your life.

Down in the corridor the young dancers appeared in contemporary costume. This was the memory inhabited or the future projected. The narrative within the piece played out back and forth through the house. Audience travelled in both directions simultaneously creating the story as they went. The sense was fluid and required that perspective from the costumes too. For DYDC we went with a palette that corresponded with their interior and gave the company a cohesive relationship through simple shapes of t-shirts and trousers in varying shades of teal and blue and green with shots of ochre. The dancers were viewed through a glass wall distorting the perspective of the viewer and giving the ensemble an ethereal sense that the co-ordinated costuming contributed to.

Giving the gift of performance – Memory – Solar natures.

The production that resulted from this keenly collaborative process was enormously rewarding personally. I felt I had been involved in something very special where innovation and the craft of dance/theatre originated in a profoundly moving experience.

Gallery

Programme Note 2018

In 2017 The Goethe Institut commissioned Liz Roche to create a site specific piece that would celebrate the opening of their new building on Merrion Square. This architectural and restoration project has seen the creation of a dynamic new building full of classrooms and the invigorating restoration of the old building to its vibrant Georgian splendour.

Picking up from Liz’s previous work with the texts and concepts of W.B. Yeats, she and her co-creator theatre maker Shane O’Reilly began this work by interrogating the concept of a living room play. W.B. Yeats used the living room as a performance space for his works in order to have the intimacy, privacy and immediacy he deemed necessary to access the work. He wanted his audience closer.

Yeat’s believed that when we die we begin to dream backwards through our lives for a time before passing on to the next place. He infused his plays for dancers with this idea. A play brings an audience somewhere else, transports them from their surroundings to another place and time in order to tell a story. Our living room play brings ghosts into the house like Yeats did with Dreaming of the Bones. It places the dead within the rooms of the living; living rooms.

If Yeats is right, and we do dream backwards through our lives when we die, then what do we dream? Where do we go? NAHER proposes that the dreaming is a search, it’s a meandering journey to a moment that must be revisited.

Liz and Shane with their collaborators Roy Carroll and Catherine Fay have created a promenade piece that brings an audience on a journey through lives lived. Searching. This work, situated in the fresh contemporary version of an old building, is an attempt to go backwards and locate moments that might define a life. Moments that are permanent within the memory, even after death. 

Press

https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/stage/näher-closer-nearer-sooner-review-a-lithe-interplay-of-recollection-and-retrospection-1.3636911?

 

Development Draft
of the Script —
Incorporating NOH ideas
Shane O'Reilly
(pdf)

Audio Files

Näher – Creative Conversation with Liz Roche & Shane O’Reilly 

Full Programme
(pdf)

We are proud of our partners.

Liz Roche Company is strategically funded by the Arts Council