Interview : Liz Roche, dynamic choreographer

Déshabille talks to Liz Roche, of the award-winning dance troupe Liz Roche Company, about her experiences staging productions and her latest work the revamped WRoNGHEADED, which is at the Dublin Dance Festival this May.

Q. Can you tell me about your dance company?

A. Well, we're based in Dublin, the company's been going a long time. We're supported by the Arts Council, and by Culture Ireland. So I make pieces for the company and we tour the work and we perform the work. I work with a particular group of fantastic dancers and differerent collaborators. I like to work on new collaborations with different types of artists and we're company - in -residence for the Dublin Dance Festival for about three years and also the Civic Theatre in Tallaght so through the dance festival I get to develop my work in the studio. With the Civic we're trying to focus on work in the community and reaching out to our audiences. This year has been a really busy year so we're doing about four different projects, but normally we do about two or three projects. The focus is contemporary dance and I suppose trying to bring contemporary dance to new audiences, to get people interested.

Q. What notable productions have you done, notable for you, I mean?

Bastard Amber Rehearsals

A. Well, one of the most recent ones, for me, I made a piece called Bastard Amber, and it was commissioned by the Abbey and Dublin Dance Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival and that was a pretty major moment. It was the first time an Irish choreographer had been commissioned for the Abbey main stage. It was daunting, but also really exciting. All of a sudden I had to try to think of a work on a much bigger scale. That was definitely a moment for me. And the work itself, I was working with a big cast of dancers and live musicians and it was just a really fun experience. That would be a standout and last year we did a piece for the National Gallery, y'know when they were opening the new refurbished Milltown Wing, so often I make work outside of theatres as well. It's really interesting to engage with different spaces and different types of audiences. And I suppose Wrongheaded that we're doing for the Dublin Dance Festival at the moment, that's an important piece to me. 

Q. It's coming back to the festival with male dancers, did you think it was important to add male dancers because of Repeal the Eight?

A. When we first made the piece, it began with a short film and then it was working with Elaine Feeney spoken word poet and a film maker Mary Wycherly
. It was made in a bit of a flurry of emotion. We all felt we needed to get the piece out there. We did it for the fringe in 2016, but once the piece was out, we could have a look at it. And I thought now we have the opportunity to bring the piece, we could look at it again, One thing I felt very strongly was that we didnt get enough time  to figure as many sides of the coin as we could and I thought coming back now it was important to look at that. Often when you're there in the theatre with everyone, you think "Oh, actually, there's more we could do to this." So Ray Harmon from Something Happens who did music originally is going to compose a new piece. Sometimes it's very important to get work out there...

Q. Do you think the Eighth Amendment will be repealed?

A. It's really hard to say. I don't know. Personally yes, I hope it is, that's just my opinion in the matter, but I dont know. I would trust, I would hope that people really sit down and think about it, consider it. It's such a complex and wide issue, when people go there, it opens up these other doors and I appreciate it's a difficult decision. You don't know how it will go.

Q. What are your future plans?

A. This year I've also been commissioned by Cork Opera and the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh in conjunction with the Brian Doherty "Patrick Ireland" project, One Here Now. So, Im going to make a piece for the Sirius Arts Centre and another for the Cork Opera stage. For me it's a really special piece because it's engaging with his work and I'm always very interested in that connection between contemporary dance and visual arts and what we have in common, so it's just been lovely to be able to be in that world of his work and also to create something new out of that.

More info

Liz Roche Company
Dublin Dance Festival

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