Laois Youth Dance Ensemble, Dublin Youth Dance Company, Laois Dance Academy, Abbeyleix School of Dance, Rainbow Castle and Happy Hearts Kids Club made the event this year. A hundred and ninety four people in the audience witnessed something magical happening since the very beginning of the show with a mix of ballet and street dance as opening section. The show had a good variety of dance styles from Contemporary to Zumba and performers from 3 years old upwards.
Laois Dance Platform has been having a great response from the audience and has made me reflect as project coordinator and director of the show, on what Laois Dance Platform really means and where it could go in the years to come. I understand that to effectively contribute to our community is a job that we all can do by using our skills and talents and that doesn’t require much to add some colour and light around us, but what really means to be part of a community? Has LDP achieved the goal to be an event for the community or is it an isolate occasion within Laois community?
When I first thought about having a platform to showcase dance in Laois I asked myself the difference about having a regular dance show and a show that creates space where people have their voice heard. We all know that every artistic contribution with or no intention proposes appreciation for arts and develops our interest for creativity; every dance performance contributes to that. However, not all dances contribute to community gathering and growth. To let people speak through their collaboration contributes to it and it can only be done through gathering. There’s power and growth in that. There’s a power in being together for one purpose and light in being available for collaboration.
As coordinator of this project I find difficult for Laois dance related people to put aside their own interest and join the movement of ‘being available for collaboration’. As mentioned before, I recognize that to contribute to our community is a role that we all can do by using our time and capacities, but it can achieve a bigger goal when done as a team. I’ve been finding difficult to sow this seed around Laois. I know it might take time (maybe a decade!) but it’s frustrated to fight for a cause on our own.
As contemporary dance teacher I have heard in my town the question: “What is contemporary dance?” and seeing students in primary schools that I teach knowing usually about one dance style: Irish dancing. Nothing against this lovely dance style and people’s uninterest for other dance styles, but this to me reflects that people in my community are living in narrow culture world. Who to blame? There’s blame? Maybe if we could collaborate to people’s culture by opening widows of other possibilities for them, wouldn’t we be adding life and expanding their cultural view?
I am quite happy with the contribution that LDP has been making so far in Laois Community but I don’t want be content to what is happening until I see that people have been given other options, that they can relate to what is around them instead of following a tradition or fashionable dance styles. Maybe in the future LDP will have nothing to do with Laois dance schools and will be exclusively devoted to dance itself independently of where it comes from. Even so, I want to make sure that I’ll create a space where my community can affordably have access to arts and culture, to find out new ideas and to consider others possibilities.
We have long way to go as our first LDP only started December, 2013 with a small audience of 80 people, but I am thankful for our achievements so far. The number of our audience have doubled and is fantastic, but better than numbers would be to hear from Laois dance related people their sincere desire to collaborate to the movement of giving our community the opportunity to become a referential of dance in Ireland.