As We Know It: A conversation between Irish dancers
Sharing | Thursday 8 October | 7.30pm | Dance Limerick
This new work by Sibéal Davitt and Kristyn Fontanella challenges prevailing attitudes within traditional Irish dance. As We Know It takes the form of a frank conversation between a sean-nós dancer and a traditional step dancer, interrogating each other's perceptions while progressing towards a new movement dialogue. All are welcome to this sharing of this work-in-progress.
During their shared experience on the MA Contemporary Dance Performance programme at University of Limerick (UL) in 2013, Sibéal Davitt and Kristyn Fontanella discovered many similarities on their journey from traditional into contemporary movement. After completing the course, they felt compelled to collaborate and create new movement together.
They were delighted to be awarded Dance Ireland’s Mentored Residency in Traditional Dance under world-renowned dance artist and performer Colin Dunne. During this residency, they explored the connections between the established styles of Irish traditional dance (step dance and sean-nós dance) and found a new language of movement to traditional music. This involved looking at sean-nós and step dancing from different perspectives and finding ways in which to create new choreography which is unique to them as traditional/contemporary dancers. While working closely with traditional music, they use different choreographic methods such as spoken word, floor patterns and improvisation.
The aim of Kristyn and Sibéal’s joint choreographic practice is to debunk certain attitudes which exist in the realm of traditional Irish dance. It is their view that a well-recognised division exists regarding the different forms of Irish dance. Irish dancers perceive other Irish dancers to be different, from another world, but are yet all defined under the same title. The piece they are currently working on while in residence at Dance Limerick takes the form of a frank conversation between a sean-nós dancer and traditional Irish step dancer, challenging each other’s perceptions, while also presenting a new movement dialogue unique to both.
They pave an honest and humorous ground to communicate. They are not interested in pasting styles on top of one another, but rather in exploring a mutual language, something they recognise as part of their journey through contemporary dance as traditional dance artists.
Sibéal and Kristyn would love to ask what the future is for Irish traditional dance, or the oxymoronic ‘contemporary traditional Irish dance’, in a world where its meaning has become blurred and also pastiche in a commercial sense.
Sibéal is one of Ireland’s leading professional sean-nós dancers. Having won TG4’s talent show ‘Glas Vegas’ in 2009, she went on to perform in Las Vegas and other noted venues and festivals including Electric Picnic, Celtic Connections, the Abbey Theatre and the National Concert Hall. Sibéal learned classical ballet, jazz and contemporary dance from the age of 5 and is currently developing her choreographic practice in the range of Irish traditional and contemporary dance.
Sibéal recently completed an MA in Contemporary Dance Performance at UL where she worked with acclaimed choreographers. She was awarded Dance Ireland’s Mentored Residency Award under Colin Dunne in 2014 and performed a work-in-progess alongside Kristyn Fontanella, which is currently being further developed.
She will perform a 'physical proclamation' as part of 'Embodied', a series of 6 solos by Irish female choreographers commissioned by GPO: Witness History Public Art Commission and Dublin Dance Festival in April 2016.
Kristyn is a Limerick based dance professional with a broad range of experience in dance and theatre. Best known for her lead role in Gaelforce Dance, her training in many dance forms has taken her all over the world with professional touring companies such as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. This experience and the influence of her fellow artists on tour has informed her unique expression as a choreographer and her current choreographic process within the worlds of contemporary dance and traditional Irish step dance.
In her short time in Ireland, Kristyn she has choreographed for 4th year students at UL and showcase material for Musical Theatre Ireland in Cork. She was awarded Dance Ireland’s Mentored Residency Scheme in 2014 with Sibéal Davitt for work with Colin Dunne, as received support from Limerick City and County Council for her participation in Limerick Dance Collective’s Sum of Parts in 2015. Kristyn is currently working with Jean Butler on her new duet with cellist Neil Martin, which will premiere in New York this November 2015.
Kristyn is currently a dance tutor at Dance Limerick and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at UL. She holds a BFA in Theatre and Dance from Central Connecticut State University, an MA in Contemporary Dance Performance from UL and is a certified Irish Dance Teacher with An Coimisiún le Gaelacha since 2009.
Through a combination of performance platforms, residency opportunities, master classes, talks and lectures, Dance Limerick will advocate for artistic dialogue and exchange. In collaboration with dance artists across a range of practices, Dance Limerick will promote the creation of new and innovative work and will devise programmes of access, engagement and participation for the wider public.
Based at the premises of the former Daghdha Dance Company, Dance Limerick houses offices and a fully equipped studio space along with a separate performance venue known as the Daghda Space
Further information about facilities and opportunities for professional dance artists available from Jenny Traynor at