Siamsa Tíre

Jonathan Kelliher gives his take on the evolution of Anam

Jonathan Kelliher gives his take on the evolution of Anam

Anam will feature dancers Matthew Olwell (Appalachian Flat Foot) Jonathan Kelliher (North Kerry “Munnix”) Nathan Pilatzke (Ottawa Valley, Canada) and John Fitzgerald (Modern Irish) and will be performed with live music and song by acclaimed musician Fergal O’Murchú.

Co Directors: Jonathan Kelliher and Sue Ellen Chester MacCarthy.

A note from Jonathan Kelliher, Artistic Director of the National Folk Theatre.

The notion of doing a show which incorporates different step dance styles has been floating around in my head for a number of years.  Having researched and studied many different world styles, I settled on the four different styles we are now using, namely, North Kerry or “Munnix”,Appalachian FlatfootOttawa Valley and, what I suppose you would call,Modern Irish.

John Fitzgerald, whom I have know since he was a child performer with the National Folk Theatre, was an obvious choice for me given his amazing skill and experience in modern Irish step dance.  I have worked with dancer Nic Gareiss in the past and I had asked him to recommend dancers who were experts in Appalachian Flatfoot. The first time I saw Matthew Olwell on a YouTube clip I knew he was the person for the part.  Matthew has turned out to be what I call the heart-beat of the piece; he has such strong steady rhythm and a very clear creative mind.  Then there is Nathan Pilatzke, what can I say about him? Nathan is the exuberance in the show. His Ottawa Valley style is so energetic and complicated, yet performed with such brilliance and passion. He keeps the rest of us on our toes, literally.  I decided to include myself to cover the North Kerry style - a style that is older than the state itself.  I have studied and loved it all my life, and it plays such a major role in so many of our productions here in The National Folk Theatre.

From the beginning of the process, Dublin Dance Festival has been really encouraging.  Former Artistic Director, Julia Carruthers, and General Manager of the festival, Carina McGrail were involved from the get-go, supporting the project and trying to secure funding to bring it to life.  Current Director, Benjamin Perchet also loved the idea and I was absolutely delighted when he said he would like to co-commission Anam (with the National Folk Theatre) and programme the new production as part of the 2016 festival. 

I needed someone to co-direct with me, and so approached Sue Ellen Chester MacCarthy, with whom I had worked with before.  I am delighted to be able to work with Sue Ellen again as she brings a unique energy and passion to the project, and her creative and choreographic skills are second to none.

Over the last few months, Sue Ellen and I have been plotting and planning the shape of the show.  It's not easy to get everyone together as the other dancers are either based abroad or touring in different parts of the world - so our time together is very precious and we need to make the most of it!

For me, Anam is such an exciting project.  It gives me an opportunity to put world class musicians and dancers in a room and see what evolves.  Having spent some time together last October, I am quietly confident that this will be a dance show with a difference and will give audiences a glimpse of what world step dance styles look like and how they can interact with each other.

- Jonathan Kelliher

Anam, Co-commissioned by Dublin Dance Festival and the National Folk Theatre premieres as part of the Dublin Dance Festival on the 23rd and 24th of May.  More information and booking...

Previews of the production form part of the annual Tocht Festival of Dance in Siamsa Tíre, Tralee on the 22nd and 23rd of April. More information and booking

← Back to Anam – The Soul of Step Dance Blog