For our first ever foray into the dance world, s t a r g a z e co-created the music for a new production of renowned choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan and his dance company Teac Damsa. Mám is a co-production of the Dublin Theatre Festival, Sadler's Wells London, and the New Zealand Festival. Musically, the project started with workshops of Irish Concertina player and stargaze in Berlin and London, and adding dancers, in Auckland over a period of more than a year. Based on traditional material interpreted by Begley, stargaze created a series of new pieces, improvisations, interludes and arranged accompaniments that Keegan-Dolan and his dancers responded to and vice -versa. In a unique co-creative process music and dance developed in parallel,refined in a shared six weeks rehearsal process in the remote village of Dingle in West-Kerry, spiritual home of Teac Damsa (and actual home of Begley and MKD)
André de Ridder about MÁM:
MÁM is a dance project we were invited on by choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan and his company Teac Damsa. It started with tentative workshops between our musicians and Irish Concertina player Cormac Begley, to explore if we could find a common language and vibe in playing together, quite possibly towards making new music together. We met twice, in Berlin and Amsterdam (stargaze’ two headquarters, you may count Rotterdam in now as a third one) before three of our musicians were invited to travel to New Zealand (as New Zealand Festival was one of the main co-producers of the work) in February 2019 to take part in further workshops that this time involved the dancers as well! I’d say that by the time the actual project started for good, we had developed a pretty good understanding of each others’ personalities, artistry and aims. The week in Wellington also produced some musical material that, alongside Cormac’s original tunes, would form the backbone of the music for MÀM.
Then, in the summer of 2019, stargaze spent no less than 5 weeks with the whole company in West-Kerry, in the beautiful little fishing town of Dingle, home of Keegan-Dolan, rehearsing and creating the final work in a community centre.
As a conductor, I am used to an orchestra, as in the musicians joining a music theatre or dance production fairly last minute, 1 – 2 weeks (often less) before the premiere, with not much room for maneuver structurally or musically. The music has been set all along. This was an entirely different process, that not only made us co-creators of the score, but the whole work took its shape under the influence of every individual dancer and musician in the room. I think it’s no hyperbole to say that this experience changed everyone’s outlook on what we do, our creative roles and processes completely and irreversibly.
And that’s before I even talk about the content of MÀM, which casts a group of people, maybe family, old and new friends, couples, a society in a place where togetherness, apartness, love and loss, support, meetings farewells are undergoing multiple manifestations and transformations like life has to, to be complete. A longing, a real struggle for but succeeding in the coming together of human kinds (sic) lays at the heart of the very emotional piece – and therefore touched on everything we are going through this year and need to consider for our future.
Premiere at Dublin Theatre Festival in September 2019
Sadlers Wells, London, in February 2020
Perth Festival, Australia, in February 2020
New Zealand Festival of the Arts, Wellington, New Zealand, in March 2020
Teatros del Canal Madrid, Madrid, in December 2021
Internationale Maifestspiele Wiesbaden, Germany, in May 2022