‘Dance as meaning-filled physicality….more than another body-centred endeavour, cultivates a body that initiates as well as responds…..a physical practice that can both register and realise social change……choreography’s potential for social resistance- Aoife McGrath Dance Theatre in Ireland.
And so, Hard to be Soft - A Belfast Prayer...
I moved to Belfast from North London when I was ten years old. I had a strong London accent, and had never played on the street.
(Things were surreal, a kind of JG Ballard new world)
I joined St Louise’s Comprehensive collage on the Falls Road Belfast. A huge sprawling seventies Building over Bog. With thousands of ‘Brown Bomber’s’ Squawking inside. ‘Oh Mummy!’
I heard once it used to be the biggest all-girls school in Western Europe. It was a city of young, awkward female energy. Nestled in beside the Falls Graveyard, with black taxis heaving themselves past through the rain.
The black taxi's started here as an attempt to keep normality during the troubles when the buses were off. They work like buses except you sit dead close, thigh to thigh, eye to eye, but also not at all.
They’ve been heaving for years.
Many of the girls practiced Disco Dancing for competitions. They were harsh strong girls. Bellowing their power out of their brown Blazers. The movement was hard, fast and aggressive. Wiping sexuality and shapes out into space like weapons. This memory from school has inspired Episode II - The Sugar army.
The boys school ‘Christian Brothers.’ Pristine short cut hair, Shiny glossy sports gear.
They kicked and howled at each other, the girls and the world.
The girls roared back. GET OUT BRITS clumsily painted on the walls. Sharing a 20p Cigarette at the wee shop. Head down. Dancing.
One night years ago my brother was coming home from the pub and he found a young lad hanging, he had to cut him down, he heard the death growl.
Years later he hears the growl of desperation coming from the back of the peeler van. (police van) My Brother is a Six foot giant.
My Father is a six foot giant, A 58 year old nationalist from Ardoyne. A Merchant Sailer. Strong Worldly man.
They don’t talk to each other. I love them both.
These are two extremes on either side of me.
I heard once that Northern Ireland had the largest male suicide rate in Europe.
I heard once Derry was the sufferd worst from it.
This Northern broken masculinty has influenced me to make Hope Hunt, Koper & Leib and Meat kaleidoscope.
Prime Cut Productions REVEAL Artist program. Let me go to Hyde Bank Prison to share my Hope Hunt and try to learn from, colaborate with young male inmates.
It was heavy duty, Im not experienced enough, I want to go back and keep trying.
Masculinity, secterianism, culture, class, sexuality and architecture.
Episode IV - Meat Kaleidascope is a physical prayer of this, to raise male chi up, to make the desperate into diaeties. Harland and Wolf, Samson and Goliath, my Da, your Da, Zeus.
My best friend’s father the amazing John Doherty told me once about seeing a human eyeball frozen over night that stuck to a wall after a shooting battle the night before. (Derry) It was looking right at him!
People grew up fighting. You can feel it in peoples Bones and the way they walk. The shape their eyebrows lie on their face.
I think a whole generation of People here are holding an era in their bones, in muscle memory, in tissue. It can seep out in the bar into their kinesphere and into others. A society aura that is holding. Holding....StUff.
In the town, on the bus. In the night.
At Super Shine.
In Blinkers & Hyde Bank Gym
On the Newtonards roads I saw Coin rings on a rotation window display.
AndyTown Surrealist Swimming pool wonky concrete. proud one.
Jesus wheres Dali? he’d love it!
Wails of youth. The screeching Wheels of Joy Riders
Smicks, Hoods. Knakers, gypos, hipsters, City hall Punks, spunky grannys on the GnT.
Too early for bucky? bacon butty and Tea.
The Towering sculpture of pellets.
A city in flames, of youth, of virility.
The fire of boredom.
Ryan O’Neil Belfast Poem
Episode IV – Helium An attempt to Open,Release and to evaporate like steam.
My Friend Aoife MacAtamney told me a story once of Lazarus, He was dead for Four days, his body stank as his flesh rotted in the cave. Jesus Came and brought him back to life. Lazarus Sisters then retaught Lazarus to walk, talk, eat, piss and swallow. A huge fully grown baby brought back to life. How painful it must have been for Lazarus to live through this, for his sisters to see him like this.
The practice of Rebirth and being completely at the mercy of your own body.
Flailing like a soft pink baby in the air.
Ridiculous and beautiful.
Reminds me of Ketamine and MDMA
To transition form one person to the next through steam.
'Taoist view the body as a miniature of the universe, filled with Tao, parts of the body have their counterparts to physical features of the universe' -Livia Khon, The Taoist Experience 1993.
What if we took these aspects of Belfast. We heightened them in to a holy place. An existential Anthem?
I want to create a dance theatre work that abstracts the broken memories of my youth of Northern Ireland into a neon bright prayer.
Welcome to a bright white limbo.
‘ It is with their muscles that humans most easily obtain knowledge of the divine’ - Dodds The Greeks and the irational