Tipperary exists


Inta Balode

Even if wikipedia says that now in Tipperary live less people than in 1821 the town is real and it looks good and vivid despite the rain. And the line from the song „It’s a long way to Tipperary” I mentioned a day before is the most cliche one and it is used in the tourist brochures and other mainstream printed material. And the brochure, of course, ignores Tipperary Dance Platform which takes place already for the fourth time. „Culture events” in touristic context I guess mostly mean – pure entertainment and the rest of the brain. So I am sorry for using so worn off intro to the Tipperary contemporary dance world which is definetely much less cliche and does amazing things.

So, yes, there is not only a town but also contemporary dance of Tipperary. Jazmin Chiodi and Alexandre Iseli managed to bring this „elitist” art form to Tipperary.

Photo: Jazmin (second from the right) and Alex (second from the left) getting ready for the studio showing

Moreover they way they organize the Platform and the work they do is pretty unique for the contemporary dance world in general. The Lab of TDP’13 which this year brought participants from Italy, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico and  and to may great surprise and joy also from Latvia (Rebecca Daly (IRL) | Deirdre Griffin (IRL) | Valerija Kuzmica (LAT) | Chin Lau (MAL) | Sarah Ryan (IRL) | Nora Rodriguez (MEX) | Maria Novella Tattanelli (ITA)) is well designed professional development program attempting to as Alex said „reduce the ocean which is between the young professionals who are just out of the studies and the professional world”. The program is providing not only the very refined training (this year it was Helene Catala who worked with the participants of the lab for a week and dealt with very precise and detailed body oriented research work) but also network possibilities and sharing of ideas.

Photo: The participants of the lab in the action

Day 1 of the platform started with the dance clas by Helene Catala which I missed because I was still no the train on my long long way to Tipperary (the song will never get out of my brain). Then it was time for the mentoring sessions where each of the participants of residency program met the mentor which was decided by chance the night before. So I took my positions of „external eye” and was sitting in the corner of three and half of the mentoring sessions (I missed the very beginning because got stuck with tasty Tipperary food and collecting evidence that the place I am now really is Tipperary. And what convinced me fully was the fact that there is even Tipperary butter).

Photo: The Tipperary butter

To be honest what I was thinking about mentoring sessions was something like that: this will be easy and simple – choreographers will have nice and supporting teachers talks with young professionals, will give them some simple tips and tools to make their thing look more attractive in the evening studio showing. No way. My head was boiling after 4:00 pm I got out of the Excel Culture center. Which by the way is an impressive building.

Photo: The Excel Arts and Culture Center by night

Photo: From inside out

I cannot share everything what came to my mind and this is also not the purpose of early morning and during the Susanne’s Bentley’s class on the embodying text on the site report from the event. But there are several themes/topics/questions/subjects somehow coming up for several times already:

  • The question about mentoring as such – both mentors and mentees asked what it really is, how it should be done, what are the rules of the game? There are several things they say you should obey when mentoring (for example, not suggesting anything precise) but are there really that unbreakable? I agree that mentoring has become a pretty fashion thing now (of course, it has always existed but was not positioned like that) so may be this is also why the direction all the mentors were working had a lot in common. Also the intensity and concentration was pretty high, the attempt to fully use the time was obvious, the attempt to fill it in with something useful and helpful for the young artists. Almost to the extent when artist feels – ok I am fine, I need time to think and digest now. But as there is still time we should go on questioning and questioning.


  • Why are you doing it? – it is obvious (Dylan Quinn said that he knew family where kids were called Obvious and Sincere) that in today’s dance it is not a good manner to dance with serious excuse and explanation why are you doing that. Deep self and content and meaning reflection is part of every move you make, every breath you take. That explains why there is less and less movement. On the other hand the ways of justifying the action has a lot of variety – from Pina’s Bausch „what moves you” to technical and formal detalization of movement as physics and architecture and other dramaturgical tools.


  • If you believe everybody does believe – at the same time next to the motivation of choices questions, the very strong statement I heard several times is – if you believe in what you do everybody will believe even if they won’t understand, even if there is no obvious narrative. And if brain of the body can achieve that then may be the brains of the head can got to sleep with all the „whys”? I find it pretty fascinating to see how the same choreographer asking all the detailed brain question is also completely body artist and instead of sitting with the expert face jumps into the movement of the mentee and just plays with it, embodying it in various ways to show the difference. And the pleasure of the movement and intuitive design of space and timing takes over the formal procedures of mentor-mentee relationships.


  • Some quotes worth thinking about – I like listening and I like taking notes, and I like to get things out of the context so they keep only their pure form making them much more general and applicable in broader contexts. Also I think many of those expressions have two extremely opposite qualities at the same time. They are both simple practical instructions (for the insiders of the art form) and almost absurd and paradox philosophical sayings for the people outside the art form (here I am trying to keep my external eye). So here are some quotes from yesterday’s mentoring sessions (what I think is also obvious is that – it is possible to tell everything around the movement but what is the text about the movement itself? Or may there is not such a thing as movement itself?):

o Be aware of your face

o Choice to make it what you want it to be

o Know what the game is inside yourself

o We don’t see your eyes so we don’t know

o It is satisfying even if we don’t understand it

o You can go on for much longer

o How the old thing informs the new thing

o Stay with the body then everything makes sense

o Is it about you or about the person watching?

o I can tell you what I see

o The connection is the problem, the question of the transition (very popular problem, I would add it to the themes mentioned before – I.B.)

o I decided not to speak

o When the section is happening it is fine

o Do you need everything before that?

o The walking is a good mechanism to begin with but it also mechanism we know

o Would be nice to kick against the rhythm

o Spend more time in the back

o I would stay with it until I really get it

o It seems to go further than you did

o Think about where you are when everything is happening

o Neutral walk confuses things

o It is not a bad thing that we know that you are building a phrase

o I like that

o I knew what you will do and I was still bit surprised

o If you are really looking at your thought process the movement does not matter so much

o What it is what I want to say

o  What was wrong with the clarity?

o To get the clear ending text is needed

o Theatrical devices or instinctive artistic choices?

o Movement comes from somewhere and goes to somewhere

o Continuous doing helps to figure out

o Don’t want to stick with what it is

o I have hard time with transitions

o They are linked already because they are there

o There is no one way of doing it

o Dissociate from the subject and become task oriented

o You don’t know until you put it out in front of people

o Think more about ‘the why’

o Just because it is a popular thing to do it does not mean it is a good thing to do

Today besides the class by Susanne and evening performances and community class there will be also a Forum where we will try to answer the question about why we are doing what we are doing and with such an enthusiasm. Yesterday night we had a huge and tasty dinner in the Bansha Castlle (which really looks like a castle I tried to take picture of from the distance), Diedre was saying that soon she will be back to the reality, to the life of poor artist. So I was thinking if we are ready to starve for this art form it should be extremly precious. And if it is that precious it should be really shared with as many people as possible.