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How We Made It: Ireland’s Young Dance Artists on Dancing By Distance

4 min read

How We Made It: Ireland’s Young Dance Artists on Dancing By Distance

4 min read


How We Made It: Ireland’s Young Dance Artists on Dancing By Distance

One of the standout highlights of this year’s Cruinniú na nÓg was the extraordinary Dancing by Distance, an original film produced by Dance Ireland showcasing the incredible talents of young dancers across the country.

Created during the first wave of lockdown, the film challenged over 35 young dancers to devise and film their own dance solo for Cruinniú na nÓg which melded together seamlessly to celebrate the talent, creativity and passion of young dance artists. The film premiered on RTÉ Two on Saturday June 13th to online acclaim and has been watched over 40,000 times on Creative Ireland’s Facebook channel

We spoke to a couple of the young dancers involved to hear about their experiences in making Dancing by Distance. 

The movement for Dancing by Distance was choreographed by Luke Murphy and each dancer was given movement inspiration through the music score (composed by Michael Fleming) and offered points of consideration. 

Bella Cotter: I found it difficult to make choreography that conveyed the emotions fully, but I really enjoyed being able to use camera angles and locations to help express the story.

Cara McCrystal: Picking suitable spaces to dance in which I could be free to move freely and naturally was hard as my movement style is more larger movement based, making it hard to contain and film safely in the smaller space of a conventional home. I was lucky to have such a lovely front and back of my house in which I could comfortably film, enjoy the freedom of fresh air and space outdoors. 

Dance Ireland: Dancing by Distance, for Cruinniú na nÓg 2020

Open Video

To effectively use their own domestic space, choreographer Luke Murphy also gave the dancers references for filling space, movement and rhythms to explore. 

Bella Cotter: I really wanted to experiment with the space around me to add to the choreography.  Filming at different times of the day also helped me figure out the shadows and lighting.

Cara McCrystal: With help from the choreographer and the guide he entailed, his preferences towards use of locations shaped how I chose spaces and areas to film around my house. 

Invisible Thread Films gave the dancers guidance on exploring ways to film, varying the formats of their shots and the use of small spaces as well as time of day to create atmosphere. 

Bella Cotter: Dance is very good at expressing emotions because you have the freedom to not only communicate with your face, but also with your body.

Cara McCrystal: I think dance is effective in expressing and releasing these emotions because of the dancer being allowed to develop their own individuality through their own dancing as you would in English in school through writing or in Art through your styles and techniques. You as a dancer get to develop your own voice through your movement and as you develop as a dancer it becomes more profound. Quarantine was a challenging time for a lot of people allowing a lot of time for interpersonal struggles and reflection. A lot of people would have undergone a lot of self discovery over those few months, this being true it would only make sense that they come to discover a few of these emotions in their movements too. 

The resulting film captures an eerie sense of isolation and creative connection among the young dancers while encapsulating an unique moment in time for artists and creatives. 

Bella Cotter: I know for me, that dance plays a fundamental role in controlling stress relief in my life, allowing me to focus and release my frustrations that I built up. I personally struggle with the absence of direction and progression in my life, dance allowed me to put one foot in-front of the other and help me feel in control and live at peace with the frustrations in my life.

Cara McCrystal: I think that dance is such a great creative expression because there is no limit to the ways you can experiment with your own choreography and movement.

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