By Shelley Marsden
TREACLE Holasz, an Irish-Ukrainian choreographer based in London, has had her latest choreography selected for showcase at the 25th Resolution Festival.
Taking place at The Robin Howard Dance Theatre as part of a dance triple-bill on Tuesday, February 11, it is a prestigious platform which has launched the careers of a host of top UK choreographers, including Wayne McGregor, Kate Prince and Hofesh Shechter.
Her piece is entitled Why Fronts: A Contemporary Lap Dance, and reflects Treacle’s Irish heritage by the presence of an onstage bodhran player Tad Sargent, while the addition of a traditional singer whose sorrow-filled Ukrainian folk songs instantly evocative of her Eastern European roots.
She told the Irish World: “This dance piece was partly inspired by a talk I was listening to by the playwright Frank McGuiness at the National Theatre, on the subject of identity. As part of this talk, he explained that the translation of Dún_na_nGall meant ‘fort of the foreigners’.
“That really resonated with my personal experience – of feeling Irish, but with a London accent. So I started to think about exploring the construction and perception of identity and being. Essentially, what it might mean to be a young, second-generation Irish woman, working and living in London.”
She said she could take all day about the issue as it interests her so much: “I personally think heritage has a huge role in my identity. I’m extremely proud to be Irish and Ukrainian, yet I have a British passport and a London accent. So I’m in an ‘identity limbo’. When I’m in Donegal (my mother’s homeland) I will be perceived as a tourist or a British person, yet I don’t feel I am – I feel at home in Donegal. “
Just one of the aspects of identity Treacle has been exploring in her choreography for the last couple of years is this idea of accent and how your voice can define how you are perceived. To this end, she collaborated with a choreographer called Marina Pogiatzi in Cyprus in 2012.
She explained: “We decided to play with this idea of voice. So I created a ‘fake language’, it was a short monologue which had hints of French and Gaelic. Marina would dance to this language. In my mind, I was telling a story so I used the tone and volume of my voice to give these fictional words meaning.
“In the work I’ll be presenting Feb 11 I have decided to explore this even further by removing the words so it has become just breath and sounds. Georges (one of the dancers) has a whole conversation with Tad Sargent the bodhran player, with out any words; it’s all breath and glances – it’s so powerful.”
Rambert dance company alumni Georges Hann and former Middlesex student Charlie Ford perform the London premiere of this quirky new duet; which in Treacle’s words “intertwines politics, feminism, and a fair bit of larking about”.
As well as one’s roots, the piece explores the influence that gender has on society’s attitude towards movement. Treacle explained: “Why is a female on all fours considered provocative whilst a male in the same pose is deemed as animalistic? Should the popular but controversial dance form of a lap dance be considered pro or anti-feminist?”
Shunning the need for elaborate costumes, Hans and Ford perform simply in Y- Fronts, which Treacle’s believes evokes not only a sense of vulnerability, but accentuates the strong undercurrent of humour that runs through the piece.
Treacle’s previous piece I Am Twenty-Four received critical acclaim, Everything Theatre praising her work as “intense choreography that immediately grabs you”. It is the choreographer’s practise to leave comment cards wherever her pieces are performed, so that she can gauge the audience’s immediate response to her work.
One audience member has described her style as “choreography [that] was able to speak of the darkness of life with a smile on its face, a sense that this is real, actually lived in skin, mind and feet.”
Born and brought up in North London, Treacle completed her BA in Dance & choreography at Middlesex University.
You can watch the trailer for Why Fronts here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0LM7MKhYm0&feature=youtu.be. Follow Holasz Choreography at www.facebook.com/holaszchoreography and @holaszchoreog.
Tuesday 11 Feb, 8pm, Resolution! The Place: Robin Howard Dance Theatre, 17 Duke’s Road, London WC1H 9PY. Tickets £14 (£11 conc) Box Office: 020 7121 1100 or at www.theplace.org.uk.