Maiden Voyage Goes Toe-to-Toe with Sensitive Subjects

A new triple bill of contemporary dance works will deal with topics including infant death and the things loved ones leave behind

A new triple bill of works exploring sensitive issues such as miscarriage and infant death, relics of our past and lives lost, and the relationship between our physical and spiritual body is to be premiered in the MAC by Belfast dance company, Maiden Voyage Dance, in early March.  

The three commissions will bring together local and international choreographers including the acclaimed, Rachel Lopez de al Neita from London, Oona Doherty from Bangor, Belfast based visual artist Sharon Kelly, and writer Martelle McPartland from Lurgan.

Every Something has a Somewhere, created by Rachel Lopez de al Neita, focuses on the role and importance everyday objects play in human lives when associated with loss. Exploring how we attach a value to personal items has inspired Rachel to question how much we attach similar values on people, and in turn reducing them to the same physical worth.

'The idea for the works were triggered by having recently cleared my garage of years of stuff, objects and furniture, all belonging to myself and my family including dead relatives,' said Rachel. 'These things, some old and antique and some more contemporary, seem to be the relics and extensions of our existence and provoke nostalgia. I am fascinated by the values and labels that we attach to material form. Do we attach similar value judgments to people thus objectifying them?'

The second commission, Körper & Leib, focuses on the relationship between our physical and spiritual self, using the two German words for the body; Körper relating to the physical body and Leib the spiritual body. This duet for two men created by Bangor born, international dance artist, Oona Doherty, sees the dancers moving in a skillful slow meditation.

Doherty’s intention is to bring the audience into a place where they tune into the realms of the spiritual body. Influences in creating the work included representation of the male form in Renaissance art, the spiritual symbolism in gesture, and the Tao connection to the body, nature and the universe.

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The final performance, Landscapes of Loss is a collaborative project initiated by Sharon Kelly and writer Martelle McPartland, and developed with Maiden Voyage Artistic Director Nicola Curry exploring the physical and emotional territory of infant death, itself a very intense, deeply personal subject. Working collaboratively, the artists have developed a work reflecting their own personal experiences using movement and moving image to bring the grief and loss associated with stillbirth to a wider public understanding.

'All too often when we experience loss in life, understandably, it is hard to express,' said Maiden Voyage Company Director Sandy Cuthbert. 'These three brand new commissions, coming together, provide both a platform, and a space for many different aspects of love, loss and living to be considered. The performances are moving, and emotive, powerful yet sensitive to the subject matter, and collectively bring a focus on what is widely acknowledged to be challenging life experiences which many of us can identify with.'

Maiden Voyage is supported by National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Gilly Campbell, Arts Development Officer for Drama and Dance, Arts Council, said: 'Maiden Voyage has built a reputation for excellence for the quality and distinctiveness of both its dance programme and delivery and is seen as a leader in their field both within and, increasingly, beyond Northern Ireland.  

'This triple bill features impressive work from three outstandingly talented choreographers, including the Arts Council’s current Major Individual Artist awardee, Oona Doherty. We are delighted to support Maiden Voyage with these brand new commissions which demonstrate the power and usefulness of the arts in dealing with difficult subjects.'

Three performances of the triple bill are planned; two in Belfast, one in Armagh. Tickets for the performances at the MAC in Belfast, on March 3 and 4 are available from www.themaclive.com or by calling 028 9023 5053. Tickets for the Market Place Theatre, Armagh show on March 9, are available from www.marketplacearmagh.com or by calling 028 3752 1821. Please note, the performances are suitable for ages 15 and over.