Breandán de Gallaí, the celebrated ex-Riverdance principal, has devised a biographical series of dances to create Lïnger, which is performed in the generously spacious main theatre of Dance Base.

Lïnger is an evening of delightful entertainment that does not shy away from making a bold statement about same-sex relationships

That space is very much needed for these expansive works. The main thrust of Lïnger is the exploration of the relationship between two male dancers at opposite ends of their dancing careers. Fulfilling the younger role as his dance partner is Nick O’Connell. The two dancers have worked together since 2010 and obviously know each other well, having a clear chemistry between them. As well the age difference of sixteen years they contrast physically; their builds are different and this in turn lends a subtle difference to the weight of footwork and visible tension in the body. Their ages also seem to represent the passing of time and changes that have occurred in Ireland, a country that didn’t decriminalise same-sex sexual activity until 1993 and then in 2015 became the first country to legalise same-sex marriage on a national level by popular vote.

This dance programme comes with visuals and a novel inclusion in the opening number. Tucked into the downstage corner of the floor is the life-drawer, James Keane, standing at his easel busily creating charcoal sketches of the movements as they happen. At the same time his work is projected onto the wall behind the performing dancers. It is a fascinating process, but somewhat distracting; its effect being to split the focus of attention confusingly between three areas. The large back wall is also used to display a series of stunning black and white photographs and video footage of the dancers in various locations. These heighten the intensity of the relationship between the dancers and provide interludes between the pieces as the dancers refresh and change footwear or costumes.

Beguiling as are the visuals are the dance is paramount. The works are emotionally charged and for the most part vigorous and energetic with a strong air of masculinity in even the most tender moments. As the programme notes point out, ‘Lïnger suggests that we can feel empowered by embracing tension and anxiety, feeling vitalised by the sense of being on the brink of catharsis’. The release from repression is nowhere more evident that in the show-stopping fusion of Irish step dance and Argentinian tango that brought smiles, joy and wonderment. It also revives the tradition of the tango originally being a balletic dance for two men, long before women were allowed to join in.

Lïnger is an evening of delightful entertainment that does not shy away from making a bold statement about same-sex relationships, that draws on a rich cultural heritage but also lays bare the darker emotions of personal identity and being together. Rewarding and moving memories of the evening will certainly linger for some time.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

Choreographed by ex-Riverdance principal Breandán de Gallaí, Lïnger is a contemporary Irish dance work involving two male dancers at opposite ends of their dancing careers. Performed by de Gallaí and Nick O’Connell, this immersive theatrical experience is a powerfully tender and muscular exploration of Irish gay masculinity, and unfolds through a rich tapestry of photography, film, music, and movement. Ériu’s work is a 21st century reimagining of Irish dance, exploring the poetic potential of the genre and examining topics rarely dealt with through traditional dance such as identity, sexuality and ageing.

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