Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Emerging From the Cocoon.

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with West Cork-based contemporary dance artist Tara Brandel. Tara is a founding member of Croí Glan. Croí Glan is a professional dance company based in Cork that creates performances with diverse bodies producing cutting edge work that tours nationally and internationally. Their current project 'Tilt' features composer Niall O' Carroll, street dancer Nicholas Nwosu, Irish dancer Oran Leong, and Tanya Turner in her first outing with the company. This project aims to delve into the struggle we all face in our present lives. Tara kindly took the time to speak with me about the ups and downs of preparing for such a performance during the lockdown. 

Although overall, Tara took a positive outlook to recent restrictions, she did mention some difficulties. For example, recent projects she had been working on had to be cancelled for obvious health and safety reasons. This uncertainty still looms over her present work as it remains unclear whether the lockdown restrictions will continue to loosen or if they will revert to prior limitations. Incorporating social distancing into a dance performance also seemed far too daunting at first. Tara then spoke about the potential effect on her mental health of not being able to dance and create, but here is where she drew positives. 

Highlighting her appreciation for having a space to create at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, Tara felt that she needed "to keep dancing and to stay creative". She continued: "I could do some work from home to keep fit and active but leaving home and going to a new space helps me keep focused and it's generally more stimulating”. 

Prior to lockdown, Croí Glan had been awarded a ‘Dance Production Studio Award’ to develop ‘Tilt’. The residency was planned for April, but due to restrictions, the studio was closed during this period. The residency was then rescheduled for 28 June with extra days added to support artists living nearby during restricted movement. (for more details on applying for this award go to )

Tara spoke about her appreciation of having a studio where she could prepare: ‘I felt fortunate to have access to the dance studio at West Cork Arts Centre. When I first arrived there, it was a quiet and isolated experience. I was working alone and the town itself was subdued. But as time passed and restrictions eased, I was able to have the other members of the project come to visit and the town became livelier. In a way, the process felt like coming out of a cocoon". On what few benefits the lockdown can bring to her creativity, Tara said that she appreciated having more time to get comfortable with all the workings of the project and felt less pressure overall. Her confidence and readiness improved as a result. 

The performance will feature a pole in the centre of a space with which the dancers will perform in and around. Circling, separating, and coming together in beautiful and ponderous synchronicity. 

When asked what she hopes people will take from the performance, Tara aims "to show that humans from a range of diversities can rise from a fragile place and come together triumphantly yet tenderly. I hope to create a metaphorical performance concerning the instability of the world and its changing times". 

After our conversation, I couldn't help but look forward to the performance. Tara’s enthusiastic approach to the project was wonderful to see. It seems to be building into an engaging and meaningful display. The performance itself, hosted by Uillinn and supported by Cork County Council, will take place at an outdoor location on September 18th in Skibbereen, all going well. Please keep an eye on the West Cork Art Centre website or Social Media for future updates on the performance.

WCAC acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council and Cork County Council

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