Interview : Aine Stapleton, Film-maker and dance artist


Déshabillé spoke to Aine Stapleton about her Lucia Joyce film "Medicated Milk", her dance work in Europe, and her role in the band Everything Shook. 

Q. Aine, you are a film-maker, dance artist and band member, how did you get into the Arts?

Aine. I began with modern and ballet classes when I was 7 years old in Wicklow, and then became interested in contemporary dance and choreography when I attended Inchicore College, Dublin. At that time you could take a gap year from school during transition year, so I danced full time at Inchicore and then decided on a career in the arts. After school I moved to London to study a B.A. in Dance as there were no similar courses available in Ireland. 

When I returned to Ireland in 2004 I worked for some wonderful Irish choreographers, but my interest was always in making my own work. I formed Fitzgerald & Stapleton Dance Theatre in 2008 with Emma Fitzgerald, and our work developed to include film as part of our live performances. In 2014 I decided to focus on creating experimental film, and I'm currently developing my second project. 

My work in music began 10 years ago when a fabulous dancer friend suggested that a few of us form a band as an experiment.  I now play with Dublin band 'Everything Shook' and we are currently working on our second album. 

Medicated Milk

Q. What has been the response to Medicated Milk?

Aine. Overall the response has been very positive from both audience and press. It's had a variety of screenings as part of Bloomsday, mental health, film and arts festivals in Ireland and Italy, as well as cinema and conference showings in Ireland and New York. There's been a post show discussion at almost every screening so far, and on Bloomsday in particular some audience members reacted quite strongly at how I portrayed James Joyce. The main goal of my work about Lucia is to offer an account of her life from her own writings. This includes creating awareness about how she was mistreated by members of her family and the medical profession.

Q. Explain your role in the band Everything Shook...

Aine. Everything Shook is a three piece band with two of my best friends Jessica and Robyn. I play the bass guitar, and also some keys. We all sing for the most part which involves a lot of harmonising. As two of us are dancers we also perform more theatrical moments and dance routines as part of our live set. 

The band is totally collaborative. I suppose I particularly enjoy contributing lyrics, and I'm enjoying the bass a lot lately, although my bass lines have become a bit dad rock for some unknown reason ha. Watch out Pink Floyd! 

We recently played the Body & Soul stage at Electric Picnic which was a great experience, and have played various venues in Ireland and New York. We are currently developing new tracks and it’s really exciting to see how our song writing has developed since the release of our first album ‘Drinking About You’ in 2016. We have a fun Christmas song coming out this week too. 

Q. How has travel inspired your work?

Aine. Travel has always had a massive influence on my work. Although most of my work is autobiographical and related to Ireland, I've mainly trained and produced my work abroad. Fitzgerald & Stapleton had amazing support in New York for many years, and we received commissions from a number of experimental theatres over there. 

Generous support from the Irish Arts Council, Culture Ireland and Irish arts organisations including Project Arts Centre and Dance Ireland, enabled us to make and tour our work between Dublin and NYC. Positive press and recognition in New York also helped to generate increased credibility and audience support in Ireland. 

In more recent years I've been working in Europe at Tanzhaus Zurich, Dancehouse and Mermaid Arts Centre Ireland, and Santa Lucia in Spain as part of Bee Time; a residency which explores artistic responses to natural bee keeping. I recently attended a masterclass with American artist Deborah Hay in Paris, who is definitely my biggest artistic inspiration. 

Next year will consist of a lot of time researching Lucia in Zurich at Tanzarchiv and The Zurich James Joyce Foundation. In the last month I’ve been researching at The James Joyce Centre Dublin, The National Archives London and I made a quick visit to the Zurich Foundation. I know all the best duty free deals at this stage! 

Q. I bet! So, what are your future plans?

Aine. I have been granted funding to create a follow up film about Lucia Joyce from the Arts Council of Ireland, so I’m really excited about next year! Following on from that I plan to make a third film about her childhood in Trieste, Italy. I'll have a live work in progress showing during Bloomsday 2018 at The James Joyce Centre Dublin and Dance Ireland with support from Arts & Disability Ireland’s New Work Award. 

Everything Shook will release a single in Spring 2018, and then we plan to start releasing tracks from our upcoming new album and playing some nice festivals next Summer! 

Apart from that my long term dreams include a house in upstate New York, a flat in southern Spain, and a pug! :)

Image taken from  ‘Queen of Vacation’,  developed and performed recently at Bee Time Artist Residency, Santa Lucia, Spain. Photo credit: Pol Parrhesia

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