Éowyn Emerald took the long road from Canada to the homeland of her grandparents, where she put down roots in 2017, giving Éowyn Emerald & Dancers a new base in Aberdeen. Though by no means a stranger to these shores, she had decided it was time to leave Portland, Oregon and open a new chapter for herself, her husband and her company. It was the fulfilment of a lifetime’s wish.
Her already significant following in this country will surely flourish with the change of location
Emerald was not unaccustomed to moving around. Born in Toronto, Canada she crossed the border to the USA where she graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Switching to the other coast she created a base in Portland, Oregon where she was among the first members of BodyVox II in 2007 and also Lane Hunter’s dance company. She also established and became the creative producer of Pacific Dance Makers, a regional collective of dance performers. While there her teaching credits included contributions to Columbia Dance, where she specialised in jazz dance The Portland Ballet, Dancescape at da Vinci, Wilson Dance and the JAG students of BodyVox. Most significantly, of course, she founded her own company.
The move across the Pond meant a year’s break in performing at the Festival Fringe, but this year she’s back with her revamped team and a new programme. Her husband, Jonathan J Krebs, formerly danced with the company, but now runs the marketing and press operation. He decided to transition from performance to a new career in physiotherapy. The reputation of the course offered at Robert Gordon University, where he now studies, was the main factor in choosing Aberdeen over other cities as a place to live and work. It hasn’t taken Emerald long to become part of the local community and find plenty to occupy her time. Currently she is teaching at Citymoves Dance Agency SCIO, and on a freelance basis with Scottish Dance Theatre's Head of Creative Learning, Dawn Hartley. She has also been participating in the Scottish Ballet's training for the Dance for Parkinson's programme.
Relocating to Scotland has given her the challenging opportunity to recreate her company. It has also provided openings for regional dancers to take up new positions. Jack Anderson and Katie Armstrong, both freelance dancers based in Glasgow, will feature this year. They both trained and performed with the Company at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Anderson is from central Scotland and has also danced with Šokio Teatras Aura and Ériu Dance Company and created work with choreographers Mark Bruce, Breandán de Gallaí, Morgann Runacre-Temple, Didy Veldman, Matthew Robinson and Lindsay Kemp. Armstrong has worked throughout the UK with several artists and groups that include the National Theatre Scotland, Rosie Kay Dance Company, Company Chordelia/Scottish Opera and ZENDEH Theatre Company. Joining them and making his Fringe debut is Chase Hamilton, who provides the link with the company’s former base in Portland. Hamilton is a contemporary dance artist who joined the Company last year having performed with Polaris Dance Theatre, TopShakeDance and BodyVox, amongst others. One very special man from Oregon will also be returning. Which means I have the opportunity to tell a delightful tale about an evening back in the USA.
The lights went out at the end of another performance and the audience prepared to leave. Then came the announcement. The show was not over. The cast looked confused. They had no idea what was happening; only a handful of people in the theatre had been told and that out of necessity. On the opening night of a dance program designed to explore aspects of relationships there was to be a romantic encore. Éowyn Emerald Barrett walked onto the stage with Jonathan J Krebs to invite those present to witness and celebrate their marriage. Lighting designer and technical director James Mapes left his box to perform the ceremony and to proclaim them 'partners in life'. Needless to say, he’s kept his job and is back in Edinburgh for this season and the tour thereafter.
Since moving here the company has performed at DanceLive (Aberdeen), to where they’ve been invited to return in October, ACT Festival (Dundee), and Hidden Door Festival (Leith). Currently they are in rehearsals for the Dance Stages Festival in Shanghai, in September. This year’s programme in Edinburgh contains seven pieces. It is to be expected that they will emerge from Emerald’s established framework. Her style is characterised by ‘technical virtuosity and emotionally complex storytelling’ creating pieces that strive ‘to communicate, challenge, and evoke a clearer picture of the relationships that unite us’.
The Company performs at the Greenside Royal Terrace venue. It maybe slightly away from the centre of town but it provides raked seating, a sprung floor and a somewhat calmer setting that suits a dance programme. In her 2016 appearance there she scored 21 sold out performances. Her already significant following in this country will surely flourish with the change of location and the increased opportunities people have to see her work. It’s worth booking early!