‘Concert’ at Dublin dance Festival: warm, funny, respectful and irreverent
Colin Dunne is more than up to the challenge of the ‘undanceable’ Tommy Potts
Michael Seaver ***** 5 stars
Fri, May 19, 2017.
Tommy Potts’s solo fiddle playing was highly idiosyncratic, and the irregular phrasing and wayward pulse in his album The Liffey Banks earned it notoriety: musicians were in thrall to its singular genius, dancers dismayed that it was undanceable.
Dancer Colin Dunne has accepted this challenge, not to earn a badge of honour like those reserved for ballet choreographers tackling Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps, but to gain a fuller understanding of his own craft. Concert isn’t a pitched battle of dancer versus musician, rather a dialogue with Potts as artist to artist.
The conversation is warm, funny, respectful and at times irreverent.
Turntable and tape recorder
Eschewing the theatre’s sound system, the music comes from two moveable speakers onstage, a turntable and a tape recorder, creating an intimate dialogue. Dunne’s dancing is similarly muted, even in hard shoes, eyes cast downwards in concentration as he listens intently and reacts to microscopic changes in rhythm. As well an LP of The Liffey Banks, a soundscore has been created by Mel Mercier that adds texture to the solo violin.
Concert opens with Dunne in sneakers stepping from one foot to the other, simply outlining his own credo on rhythm and steps and how every dance comes from the simple act of stepping. He deftly switches between normal steps and stylised dance steps, playing with expectations. Later, seated at a piano, he plays the hornpipe Blackbird, then tries to mimic Pott’s performance – an illustrative, but impossible task.
As Concert finishes, Dunne records looping patterns of foot taps, leg swings, violin notes and piano chords. Together they build into a rich tapestry, but each individual gesture seems like a message into the spiritual world that Potts now inhabits.
Ultimately, both are kindred spirits, in love with their artforms but dismissive of the rules. A recorded interview with Potts is spliced to set up a witty real-time conversation with Dunne. However artificial, it suggests the admiration and respect would have been reciprocal.