In Conversation with Zoë Ashe-Browne

We spoke to our Associate Artist Zoë Ashe Browne about her 3 part series of podcasts on 'Irish Women Making Dance', as part of the podcast 'Movers Shakers Makers'.

Tell us about how the podcast series 'Irish Women Making Dance' began, and why you felt the podcast was relevant for you and your practice?

I wanted to hear from my contemporaries about their experiences of being women; being Irish and being makers to see what connections there were between us. We have a large ratio of women in and from Ireland making and creating their own dance work and I wanted to highlight and celebrate this through the podcast. The conversations have already informed my next dance work which will be a solo created for a dancer who has just given birth, as mother hood was a reoccurring theme through all of the conversations on this mini series.

The podcast is funded and supported by the Arts Council, and in particular the Markievicz award which you are a recipient of- can you tell us a little more about this award, and what areas it is allowing you to explore this year.

The Markievicz Award was established to honour Constance de Markievicz as the first woman to be elected to Parliament and appointed to Cabinet.  It provides support for artists from all backgrounds to buy time and space in order to develop new work that reflects on the role of women in the period covered by the decade of centenaries 2012–2023 and beyond. The award has allowed me to create (in association with Movers Shakers Makers) this 3 part mini series which will inform the evolution of several dance works inspired by Irish women making dance. It also gave me the opportunity to connect to so many other makers, making a sort of mini community where we shared and discussed ideas, experiences, opinions and aspirations. It’s been a really enriching experience so far and has certainty given me a clear scope for future pieces.

The podcast series, run by Emma Lister, 'Movers Shakers Makers', features conversations with creatives speaking about their artistic processes. You were a guest on the podcast yourself, before your own series. Do you feel dance as an art form is well represented and spoken about, in the same way as more popular culture art forms as film and tv? Do you think dance needs to be communicated in a different way.

The pandemic did very interesting things to our art form as (like everything in the world) it went exclusively online for a period of time. This paved the way for a lot of online performing as well as platforms for dialogue, advocacy and debate which gave us new formats of connection and fresh perspectives. As an art form it can be hard to discuss and verbally articulate what we do and why, but I think it’s important that people are given an opportunity to listen to artists discuss their work so that they can feel connected to what they then hopefully go and see in a theatre, studio, site specific space or online. Emma and I always marvel at how beautifully our interviewees can verbalise their feelings, thoughts and experiences. It’s a myth that dancers aren’t good speakers.

What podcasts or social channels do you engage with yourself for dance discussion?

For dance I recommend: Dance Edit and Conversations on DanceFor interview inspo: Fresh Air. For documentary: Slow Burn and You Must Remember This.

For Instagram check out @biscuitballerina @somatic_based_content_only

How did you choose the guest speakers for the roundtable discussion? They are all professionals at different stages of their dance careers here, and abroad.

Exactly, we wanted to interview 6 women in emerging, mid and established phases of their careers. We wanted to initiate a dialogue between women of different generations and style focuses. Our interviewees cross the spectrums of classical, contemporary, dance theatre and traditional Irish dance and have made and presented their work all over the world. There were however several strands of connection between them. From some being employed by others, working with similar choreographers or even beginning their initial training in the same dance schools in Ireland. These lovely connections reflected the similarity and differences between their experiences that we discuss on the podcast.

You are Dance Ireland's Associate Artist for 21/22- can you speak to us about your intentions for the year a little- any studio showings, or workshops etc.

I’ll be sharing some work and ideas in April in the Dance Ireland studios and I’ll also be taking up a research and development period in July. I’m also in dialogue with Dance Ireland about teaching classes and workshops in the not so distant future as well.

You can listen to the podcast series Movers Shakers Makers HERE.

About Zoé:

Zoë is an award winning dance artist and choreographer from Dublin, Ireland.

She began her professional dance training in 2003 with Irish National Youth Ballet Company. In 2006, aged 16, she won a full scholarship to train at the English National Ballet School in London where she completed her education.

Upon graduating in 2009 she returned to Ireland to dance with The National Ballet of Ireland, dancing principal roles in Morgann Runacre-Temple’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Carmen’, both of which were created on her. Subsequently, Zoë danced with the English National Ballet Company, The Peter Schaufuss Ballett Company (Denmark) and Ballett Vorpommern (Germany), before joining the Royal Ballet of Flanders (Antwerp, Belgium) in 2018 under the directorship of world renowned choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Her vast performance repertoire includes classical, neo-classical, and contemporary works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan, Alexander Ekman, Benjamin Millepied, Meryl Tankard, Derek Deane, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Wayne Eagling, Ludovic Ondiviela, Herald Lander, Michael Corder, Martha Graham, Bryan Arias, Brigel Gjoka, Jeanne Brabants, Daniel Proietto, and many more.
Her next performance season will see her working with Belgian choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Anna Teresa DeKeersmaeker and Alain Platel.

Zoë began choreographing for stage and film (Ballet Atha Cliath) in 2014 and has had her work supported by The Arts Council of Ireland and Dance Ireland. Her  recent choreographic works include “ASA” for Dancer from the Dance: Festival of Irish Choreography in association with Irish Modern Dance Theatre and ‘Spiro’ for the 2020 Gent Festival of Flanders.

Earlier this year Zoë was a recipient of the Countess Markievicz Award from the Arts Council of Ireland and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media.

Photo ©Filip Van Ro

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