Composition, Tradition and Innovation
The principle dancer of Riverdance for seven years, dancer, choreographer and academic Breandán de Gallaí, gives an incomparable insight into the world of dance. Alongside his extraordinary career, Breandán has a Masters in Ethnochoreology, and completed his PhD on dance in a contemporary context in 2016. “My PhD looked at Irish dance as an art form. Irish dance is often used in a fast moving way that excites the audience. That was less important to me – I was interested in something more emotive and provocative.”
During his performance-based PhD, Breandán created two major choreographies – Noċtú and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Noċtú acquired a five-week residency at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York, and was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards. Now Breandán’s principal focus is his dance company Ériu, which emerged as a result of his successes with Noċtú.
More recently, Breandán created Lïnger; a new show that sees him return to the stage alongside the lead dancer from Noċtú and Rite of Spring, Nick O’Connell. “Having worked with Nick, I knew I had to do something very personal. I hadn’t danced publicly on that level for about 12 years, so it wasn’t easy to return to the stage. I did two and a half thousand shows in Riverdance, and even then I was nervous before a show. The expectation that I had for myself, that other people had, and also doing my own work, was very daunting. With all that said, I loved every minute of it.”
In Lïnger, the audience can observe a major difference between Breandán and Nick’s movements, even though they are performing the same material. “Younger people move in a rash and unpredictable way. The older you get, the more considered and focused you are on movement. That seemed to be present simply as a result of our 17 year age difference, and it was something I wanted to portray.”
The show deals with strong themes of authentic and sexual identity, yet it resonates with a wide audience. “Lïnger is abstract and deliberately so, because I wanted the themes to be universal so you would identify with it regardless of your own personal narrative. The name Lïnger comes from the fact that we love to live in anticipation, and there is that whole idea of procrastination. Our next tour is in March, and we will perform Lïnger in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway on Thursday 16 March.”