New Zealand Festival’s inaugural artist in residency programme Made in Wellington, aims to harness the capital’s creative energy and foster the development of new works that will be seen at subsequent Festivals.
Internationally renowned as a small city that is famous for its award-winning film and creative industry, beautiful natural environment, progressive outlook and rich Māori and Pasifika culture, the New Zealand Festival is confident Wellington will provide a unique environment for an artist to explore new ideas and forms.
For the first Made in Wellington residency, New Zealand Festival is hosting acclaimed Irish choreographer and theatre-maker Michael Keegan-Dolan and his company Teaċ Daṁsa (House of the Dance) for a six-week residency where they will develop a new work for presentation at the 2020 New Zealand Festival.
Creative Director Marnie Karmelita said she was thrilled to be able to invite Michael to be the first international artist to take part in this initiative:
"Over the past decade Michael has built a strong connection with New Zealand and Wellington in particular," says Marnie. "I love the rawness of his creative vision and I have no doubt that the way Michael seeks truth through community and collaboration means that we will all connect with his work on a deep level."
Michael is deeply committed to the reclamation of indigenous Irish culture through language, story and music and his process and artistic content are always informed by the people and place in which the company resides.
Michael has a fantastic reputation and is popular among contemporary arts audiences in New Zealand due to a long-standing relationship with New Zealand Festival, having presented Swan Lake (2018), Rian (2014) and Giselle (2008).
“I would like the new work to have some of the lyrical qualities of Rian but also some of the political edge of Swan Lake or Giselle’, says Michael. “Above all I would like this to be an in-depth engagement; I don’t want to waste a second of this amazing opportunity.”
This work being created in Wellington and Ireland is a co-produced by New Zealand Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival and Sadler's Wells (London) where Michael is an Associate Artist, with funding from Art’s Council of Ireland Open Call Fund. It will tour internationally before being staged in Wellington as part of the 2020 New Zealand Festival.
At the official pōwhiri welcoming Keegan-Dolan to Pōneke, Mayor Justin Lester said in his greeting "I warmly welcome Teaċ Daṁsa to enjoy Wellington! Have fun and let this special city inspire your creative process."
The Made in Wellington artist in residency programme aims to involve local artists in its development and presentation. It will provide opportunities for a broader community of artists and audiences to engage with the creative process through masterclasses, talks, informal showings, and Q&A sessions.
Michael Keegan-Dolan (Micháel MacAodhagáin-O’Dobhailen) founded Teaċ Daṁsa in 2016 as a means to forge deeper connections with the traditions, language and the music of Ireland. The name Teaċ Daṁsa ‘House of the Dance’ in Classical Irish, reflects Michael’s ongoing journey to create dance and theatre work that clearly reflects the place from which it originates. Swan Lake / Loch na hEala is the first production made by Teaċ Daṁsa and continues the tradition of ground-breaking productions for which Michael is reputed. It won the Irish Times Theatre Award 2017 for Best New Production and the The UK Critics' Circle National Dance Award for Best Production 2018. Swan Lake which was performed in Wellington in March 2018, has toured extensively, travelling to Ireland, Denmark, UK, Germany, Luxembourg, Russia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the autumn of 2019, it will tour North America travelling to New York, LA, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina and Ottawa in Canada.
Michael rose to acclaim as the artistic director of Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre (1997-2015), creating three Olivier Award-nominated productions: Giselle (2003), The Bull (2005), and The Rite of Spring (2009). In 2004, Giselle won an Irish Times Theatre Award and The Bull received a UK Critic’s Circle National Dance Award in 2008. Rian, created in 2011, won a Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award) in 2013 for Best Production.
Michael was an associate artist at the Barbican Centre, London and is now an associate at Sadler’s Wells London.
In the winter of 2014, the Fabulous Beast, a mythical creature that had
lived in the imagination of Michael Keegan-Dolan for seventeen years grew weary and unwell. The following spring this extraordinary a-zoological beast expired and after months of mourning its passing, something new began to appear. In supporting Michael’s ongoing creative journey of forging deeper connections with his cultural roots, folk music, language and native traditions and coinciding with the development of Swan Lake / Loch na hEala, the new company name was decided.
Teaċ Daṁsa is derived from the original Irish way of writing Teach Damhsa (pronounced Chak Dowsa). It means ‘house of the dance,’ and reflects Michael’s wish to deepen the connection between his dancing and the place from which it
originates. Swan Lake / Loch na hEala, performed at New Zealand Festival 2018, was the first production forged in the cauldron that is now Teaċ Daṁsa.