“Lïnger is superb: a must-see full-on theatrical show … intensely moving … technically brilliant … breathtaking” The Skinny, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016…“Tender and brave” Judith Mackrell, The Guardian
Lïnger from Ériu is a critically-acclaimed contemporary Irish dance work involving former principal of Riverdance, Breandán de Gallaí and Nick O’Connell, two male dancers at opposite ends of their dancing careers. This ground-breaking theatrical experience received stellar reviews and sell out success at home and at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016, and is now back with an eight venue tour across Ireland, including a visit to the Millennium Forum Derry, with an evening performance 14th March.
Choreographed and directed by de Gallaí, this immersive work explores identity, sexuality and ageing, unfolding through a rich tapestry of music, movement, live drawing, photography (Declan English), and film (Terry O’Leary). The piece offers a visceral aesthetic, the mercurial movements of youth juxtaposed with the more considered gestures of the less young. Lïnger harnesses this contrast, making us reflect on the passage of time and who we are at various junctures of our lives.
Although Irish dance is a choreographic starting point for Lïnger, de Gallaí is influenced by many dance genres, and what unfolds on stage is a new style of Irish dance that is both contemporary and provocative. The soundtrack ranges from classical music to traditional, from tango to jazz.
His artistic ethos is inspired by choreographic genius Pina Bausch and her perspective on dancers - "I’m not so interested in how they move as in what moves them.” By simultaneously maintaining the traditional Irish dance legacy and emphasising the expressiveness of the dance, de Gallaí strives to bring a fresh perspective to the art form.
He explains: "I grew up in the competition scene and subsequently became principal dancer with Riverdance. When I left the commercial performance world, I wanted to focus on exploring the capacity of Irish dance. I wanted to see what the dance could do in terms of evoking emotions, and use its expressive potential to address issues and themes rarely explored in traditional dance."
De Gallaí continues:
"Lïnger is a meditation on masculinity, a concept that can mean many things, and it aims to leave the viewer a little closer to understanding its complexity. Lïnger is biographical and it comes from quite a sad and painful place, but it resolves into something quite hopeful. It was a very cathartic experience to make the piece and it’s always very satisfying to perform."
This North West Culture Gal was fortunate to catch up with de Gallaí earlier today and find out just why Linger is something special. And I wasn't disappointed. Just where did this dance show spring from and what can we, the Derry audience, expect in a few weeks time?
"I'd been making pieces in modern dance for a few years with Nick O'Connell", de Gallaí told me. "I knew that something special was happening. When I chose dancers, it's important that they believe in the work and in the dance. I was very moved by a solo piece Nick had done recently. Nick was dealing with some personal challenges which I had dealt with ten years previous. We put these challenges into this theatrical show."
So then is this show a type of therapy I wondered? "Yes it is therapy. We both went through the same issues and here we delve into a very hurt place to generate feelings and emotions. Sometimes this can be left too long and one begins to 'linger' - hence the name of this show!"
"This is a theatrical piece and it tells the story of two men (one man at different times) going on an odyssey. But when the audience see this, they will also read experiences from their own lives up to this stage. Hence the show has a universality to it."
I asked de Gallaí how he feels it is to become closeted in an identity and unable to identify with the real self. "We sometimes engage in identities to become a version of us whom others are comfortable with. This show will show how we shed that projected identity and become our authentic self."
I told de Gallaí during our conversation that one of my most treasured quotes from Shakespeare is 'to thine own self be true.' Linger seems to be showcasing just this.
Breandan de Gallaí is no stranger to Derry. He attended the 'Soal School of Irish Dance here in the city and has very fond memories of it. "Mary from Soal was a special teacher. We always spent time in Derry. This is like coming home. Derry is very important to me and the Millennium Forum is such a beautiful venue. Coming to Derry is important is so many ways for me."
De Gallaí danced with River Dance for 9 years, so he's no stranger to the world dancing stage. This is different he tells me: "this is more theatrical and it's framed on my own life."
I for one am looking forward to seeing this life unfold in dance on the Derry stage mid-March. Are you?
Linger performs at the Millennium Forum on Tues 14th March. Tickets are now available from the Box Office. Telephone 71 264455 or visit www.millenniumforum.co.uk for bookings.