Dance Ireland Residency: Ruaidhrí Maguire

Mon 6 Nov 2023 - Fri 10 Nov 2023
10:00 - 18:00

Ruaidhrí is the recipient of a Dance Ireland Residency.

With this Dance Ireland residency, Ruaidhrí is aiming to begin research for a new dance film titled ‘The Riders’. His first self-led choreography specifically for film, Ruaidhrí wants to create a piece in response to J. M. Synge’s one-act play ‘Riders to the Sea’ where we see the thoughts of each son about longing to return home to their mother Maurya on Inis Meáin. As Ruaidhrí’s creative practice focuses strongly on internal and external relationships, as well as relationships with the environment, this residency will allow him to explore relationships with what is there and what isn’t, what is real and what is corporeal (relating to a person's body as opposed to their spirit). Ruaidhrí has had some experience with dance film commissions in collaborative settings. These projects were abstract with a brief based on the choreography reflecting a feeling or image that the director wanted to be presented.

‘The Riders’ is a concept that he has developed himself and this residency provides him an opportunity to explore a new approach to his creative practice using the development of a dance film as the impetus. For ‘The Riders’, he wants to build stories for each of the six brothers who were lost to the sea. He plans to use storyboards as the primary tool while building each brother's stories and finding where each story best intersects with one another. Ruaidhrí’s practice is very music led and by using storyboards, he can allow this piece to be image-led. Before, his process was to work backward from the overall picture, creating the choreography to lead to this point. By using a different approach to work by thinking about each frame, these can become the building blocks towards the final overall picture; a dance film. 

The choreographic themes will be drawn from J. M. Synge’s writing. One of the key themes in Synge’s work is paganism and the images that represent this. For example, Maurya seeing her dead son Michael riding on the horse behind her last living son Bartley is indicative of the myths surrounding the Water Horse or each-uisce (as Gaelige). The each-uisce, similar to the Scottish kelpie, are creatures thought to have been blue men who could shapeshift into powerful water horse. As part of his exploration, Ruaidhrí wants to ask the question, what if these ‘blue men’ were men who were lost at sea and couldn’t find peace? With the majority of the standard classical repertoire driving itself from pagan myths and stories, Ruaidhrí will explore how the classical vocabulary can bring Irish myths into a similar realm as these stalwarts of the classical repertoire but through the modern lens of a new neoclassical dance film. 

Another main theme within ‘Riders to the Sea’ is transition. Maurya, represents an old Ireland and is attached to the traditional world while her daughter Nora represents the changing world and the willingness to modernise with this. The sea is a powerful image of transition in many cultures. Through this imagery, Ruaidhrí wants to explore how to present the transition between being real and corporeal with his choreographic vocabulary, discovering how best to represent this through dance on screen. 

With the majority of Ruaidhrí’s choreographic works being performed on stage, this usually leads to his focus being on the whole body moving in space. This residency will give him the time and freedom to explore how to create movements for camera, and to explore the detail of his physical vocabulary. In the studio during this residency, he plans to experiment with isolating movements on body parts and recording them, building the picture of the whole body piece by piece, and finding his unique neoclassical voice which translates across film as the intermediary.

 This is the beginning of the process towards creating ‘The Riders’. Through utilising Dance Ireland’s resource room, Ruaidhrí will study other dance films to find what makes them successful, how lighting and setting choice can affect the overall narrative, and ultimately what style of cinematography he feels will show his ideas in the way he imagined. This also gives him time to reflect on narrative choices made through physical and creative research which will only benefit the piece as a whole.

Read more about Ruaidhrí...

Ruaidhrí Maguire is a ballet dancer and choreographer from Ireland. He is currently the youngest male principal dancer at the Baltic Opera Ballet, Gdansk, Poland, performing leads in Giselle, The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Don Quixote. He is also the Artistic Director of Six Dance Collective.

As a choreographer, he recently premiered his new work 'Beating Streets in City Hearts' at the Baltic Opera in Gdansk as well as performed a preview of his upcoming ballet White Doves at this year's edition of Dancer From The Dance Festival. With Six Dance Collective, and with support from Arts Council Northern Ireland, he is creating the full-length version of White Doves which premieres in Aug 2023 at The MAC in Belfast. He will also be a resident artist with Galway Dance Project to develop a new piece Where Two Paths Meet this summer.