The Next Stage

Dance Ireland supports one free place for a professional member of Dance Ireland to take part in this development opportunity.

Described by past participants as ‘career changing,’ ‘a rare amount of inspiration’ and ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity,’ this challenging programme, which spans the entirety of the Dublin Theatre Festival, is an intense combination of exposure to the highest quality performance and active participation. In addition to a very busy schedule of performances, there is a series of talks and workshops led by some of the world's leading performance makers.

The Next Stage is presented by Theatre Forum in partnership with Dublin Theatre Festival and funded through the Arts Council's Theatre Development Fund.

This call opens in August each year through the Theatre Forum website. Keep an eye on our Opportunities section for updates about The Next Stage. See below for information on past recipients.

2019 Recipient – Stephanie Dufresne and Eileen McClory

Stephanie Dufresne
Stephanie is a dancer, actor and maker from the West of Ireland currently based in Dublin.

Stephanie holds a BA in Dance from the Rotterdam Dance Academy in the Netherlands. Since graduating she has worked for companies and choreographers in the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland such as Protein Dance, Icon Dance, Chrysalis Dance, United Fall/Emma Martin, Dam Van Huynh, Marguerite Donlon, Theo Clinkard, Liz Roche and John Heginbotham. 

Stephanie spent two years in the full time programme at Bow Street, the Academy for Screen Acting in Dublin. While there she worked with Directors Shimmy Marcus, Lance Daly, Jim Sheridan and Cathy Brady among others.

Stephanie has been featured in music videos for Talos, Galia Arad, Join Me in the Pines, Edel Meade and Crash Ensemble. Stephanie has appeared in national campaigns for Dublin Airport Authority and Bank of Ireland and was the face of the Galway International Arts Festival in 2017 and 2018. 

Stephanie's own choreographic work has been performed at the Clonmel Junction Festival, Galway Culture Night and Cork Midsummer Festival. She is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Dance Ireland and Galway Dance Project. Stephanie is a recipient of a 2018 Arts Council Artists' bursary to explore a dance work in conjunction with the work of poet Dani Gill. 

Eileen McClory
As an established Dance Artist, Eileen has received commissions from Maiden Voyage  Dance Company:  Untitled 2020, The Playhouse Derry: TURF 2018, Tinderbox & Theatre Company: CUCK 2017.

As Artistic Director of Off the Rails Dance #OTR Eileen choreographed and produced The Dutiful Wife 2016, and S(3)nsored 2011 and received an Artist Career Enhancement Award from Arts Council NI in 2018 to develop #theSHAMEproject for production in 2020.
Residencies: 2019 Creative Europe/Galway Theatre Festival’s Make-a-Move: Incubator lab, Galway.  2017 SPACE PROGRAMME, The Performance Corporation (IRE). 2016 Dansmakers, Amsterdam: The Game Show supported by Arts Council NI. HATCH Artist, The MAC Belfast, 2013/14.
Eileen has worked extensively in Higher Education, most recently as a guest choreographer at the University of Cumbria and throughout her post as Teaching Fellow and Course Director of the BA Dance Program at Ulster University, Derry 2014-2017, in which she was responsible for leading the dance programme during its phase-out.

Eileen is completing an MA in Contemporary Performance Practice at Ulster University, Derry, She received her BA Dance from Liverpool John Moores University (04) and completed two-year Professional Training Programme at Dance New Amsterdam, New York (09).
Eileen has worked with: The Playhouse, Derry; Tinderbox Theatre Company, Theatre of Pluck, Replay, ponydance, Accidental Theatre, DU Dance, Bruiser Theatre Company and Assault Events (UK). Performing in international festivals such as Bauhaus Summary (DE) Christchurch Festival, Taranaki Arts Festival (NZ), Darwin Festival (AUS), Greenspace Festival (USA), Belfast Festival at Queens, Feile An Phobail, Pick n Mix Festival, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Outburst Arts (all in NI).

2018 Recipient – Kate Haughton

Kate originally trained in Modern Ballet at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating in 2014. After her training in ballet she worked with companies Scottish Ballet and Ballet Ireland. She began her contemporary practice in 2015 when she embarked on an MA in Trinity Laban, London. Whilst there she performed with Transitions Dance Company, working with a variety of different choreographers, and was a recipient of the Leverhulme Trust Scholarship. As a freelance artist she has collaborated with various choreographers including Theo Clinkard, Dog Kennel Hill Project, Ohad Naharin (with thanks to Arts Council Ireland), Kerry Nicholls, Diana Loosmore and Ania Straczynska. In 2018 she began making her own work with funding from Dance Ireland and DLR Co. Council., where she developed her research in time-consciousness within dance. She also has an active teaching practice in both ballet and contemporary, working with a variety of ages. Her interest in finding different ways to understand the world we live in brought her to her studies in Mathematics with the Open University, where she is currently specialising in quantum and fluid mechanics

2017 Recipient – Deridre Griffin


2016 Recipient – Michelle Cahill

Michelle Cahill is a creative producer, arts programmer and performer based in Dublin.  Michelle is interested in creative and physical expression, supporting the development of the individual and collaborating with others to realise artistic goals. As an independent creative producer, she produces new work for theatre, dance and film. Since 2012 she has worked with Shawbrook Forest Dance Centre, Longford as programme co-ordinator. Recent credits as a producer include ENTHRONED by Jenny Macdonald FringeNYC, the International Fringe Festival New York, and First Fortnight Festival, Dublin and TURF for Rowan Tolley Company, Cruthú Arts Festival, Longford and Galway Theatre Festival 2016.

As a performer, Michelle has worked in dance, theatre, film, music and dance-film productions, in theatres, street theatre, and site-specific locations in the UK, Spain and Ireland.  She also lectures part-time in the Performing Arts in both further and higher education colleges.  

2015 Recipient - Jessie Keenan

Jessie Keenan is a Dublin-based dance artist.  She holds an MA in Contemporary Dance from the University of Limerick. Her current practice explores site-responsive dance within non-performance spaces, with a particular focus on collaborative inter-disciplinary processes. In March 2015 she was commissioned by Dance Ireland to create Low Lying, a collaborative work with visual artist Ciara McKeon and musician Robbie Blake for Mind Your Step (funded by Creative Europe & Arts Council Ireland) which was funded for full production by the Arts Council and presented at Tiger Dublin Fringe 2016. Jessie has also been supported by Cavan County Council with a Professional Development Award and Shawbrook (Longford) with a residency and a residency in Shawbrook Co. Longford, to develop an ongoing work with theatre director Sarah Baxter. Jessie also choreographed a new solo work commissioned by the Dublin Dance Festival/GPO Witness History Public Art Commission for Embodied April 2016. 

2014 Recipient – Catherine Young

Catherine was Dancer/Choreographer in Residence at Siamsa Tíre Theatre (2006-2015) where she was artistic director of Catherine Young Dance, Kerry Youth Dance Theatre and founder/co-artistic director of Tocht International Dance Festival (2011-2015). Catherine holds an MA in Contemporary Dance from the University of Limerick where she is also a guest lecturer/choreographer.  She also holds a certificate in Theatre Directing from National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
Catherine trained and performed for eight years in San Francisco and New York and has studied/worked with Printz Dance Project (USA), The American Conservatory Theatre (USA), Darell Jones (USA), Retina Dance Company (UK/Belgium), Lacina Coulibaly (Kongo Ba Teria Dance Company – Africa), Wendy Houstoun (UK) and Hofesh Schecter Company (UK). She has created work for the Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, CoisCéim Dance Theatre, Shawbrook Touring Company and the University of Limerick among others.

Catherine served as a board member of Dance Research Forum Ireland 2008-2012 and is also a certified yoga teacher.  Catherine was a Dance Ireland Associate Artist in 2014/15.
“She is a choreographer that we will hear about for a long time” Jonathan Kelleher, Artistic Director, Siamsa Tíre – The National Folk Theatre of Ireland
“Catherine has an ability to inspire creative, technical and intelligent work in dance.” Kate Kennelly, Arts Officer, Kerry County Council

2013 Recipient – Ailish Claffey

Since graduating from Trinity LABAN, UK with a BA(Hons) in Dance Theatre, Ailish has studied Theatre Directing at NUIM and continues her studies at Trinity LABAN for a Post-graduate Specialist Diploma in Choreological Studies. 
Creating and performing new work in a collaborative capacity since 2007, Ailish has worked professionally with choreographers including Anneke Hansen Dance (NYC), Irish Modern Dance Theatre (Ire), Sara Rudner (NYC) and Daria Fain (NYC).
Ailish’s choreographic work and collaborations have been performed internationally including New York, Boston, Pennsylvania, Canada, Sweden, Bulgaria & Scotland in addition to various national venues including The Project Arts Centre (Dublin) & The Firkin Crane (Cork). Having completed numerous artistic residencies both nationally and internationally, Ailish’s choreographic work has been performed as part of The Dublin Dance Festival, The Dublin Fringe Festival, Bealtaine, The Kinsale Arts Festival, Green Ribbon Week and Abundance Festival (Sweden).
Ailish is a founding member of Claffey | Christofi Dance alongside dance artist Alicia Christofi-Walshe and co-founder of Folded Productions with dance artist Laura Murphy. Ailish’s choreographic work has been kindly supported by Dance Ireland, The Arts Council, Culture Ireland, Kerry County Council, Kildare County Council, Fishamble: The New Play Company, Daghdha Dance Company, F2 Centre, Shawbrook Dance Centre, Firkin Crane, La Cathedral Studios, Kinsale Arts Week (Ireland) and The Candy Factory (Pennsylvania).

Ailish has been the recipient of many awards most notably: Community Dance Award (in collaboration with dance artist Michelle Cahill) (2013) Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DIR), Culture Ireland Award (2013) (Tour new work to Pennsylvania, USA), Culture Ireland Award (2012) (Tour new work to Boston and New York), Choreographic Bursary Award, Dance Ireland (2010), Travel & Training Award (2009) (2011).
Committed to developing contemporary dance within communities, Ailish works in collaboration with community groups and has designed and delivered many large scale projects for various groups of mixed abilities. Most recent engagements include dance for: Adults in Rehabilitation, Older Persons and People with Parkinson’s Disease. Ailish has worked on and led projects for The H.S.E. Dublin, Kerry Local Sports Partnership, V.E.C. Kilkenny, South Dublin County Council, Bealtaine Festival, Dublin Dance Festival & NOISE Dublin, Enable Ireland, St. John of God’s, Stewarts Care, Macushla Dance Club, Dance Ireland, Youths at Risk, Dance United, Kerry County Council while Community Dancer in Residence (alongside Laura Murphy).  Ailish is certified by Mark Morris Dance Company, Brooklyn to teach Dance for Parkinsons Disease.

Ailish was invited to study with functional Anatomist Irene Dowd, NYC where she completed Teachers Course in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Patterns (2012) & Spirals (2013).

2012 Recipient – Peter Duffy

Peter Duffy grew up on a small farm in Co. Monaghan. He obtained an English and Economics degree from UCD (1981) and H.Dip. (1982). He spent time working and travelling in the war torn areas of Northern Ireland and Central America (plus a year in New York) in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. He acted full-time for 3 to 4 years in the mid 1980’s. A serious road accident in 1984 led him to drama and later dance. Throughout the 1990’s and since, he trained in movement/dance (contact improv, contemporary, Irish, tai chi) and yoga. He qualified as an Iyengar Yoga teacher in 2000.

Since 1999, he has danced, acted, directed and choreographed as well as worked as a performance artist. Highlights include One Penny Operas - Wexford Opera House, Dublin Fringe (dancer), Verano Azul - Project Arts Centre (co-creator/performer), Taped Play - Project (choreographer/ performer), Suffering - Transversal DDF (performance art), Farmwork / Fieldwork- Working Title - DanceHouse, Imagine Arts Festival Waterford (chor.) A Political Movement - Birr I.F.O.N.L.Y. Dance Festival (performer/ creator) and a one man show of Patrick Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger.  Other activities include sport, hiking, cycling and swimming outdoors.