BABORÓ INTERNATIONAL Arts Festival for Children is just a few weeks away and among the highlights is the world premiere of Francis Footwork from CoisCéim Dance Theatre, which delighted audiences in 2015 with the award-winning The Wolf and Peter.
Francis Footwork, written and created by David Bolger, and designed for children aged six upwards, packs wizardry and magic into an uplifting tale of how dance returns joy to a kingdom. Francis Footwork is no ordinary girl - she is an extraordinary dancer. When young King Two Lefties ascends to the throne, he is convinced by trusted adviser Colonel Headbanger to rule with an iron fist and ban dancing.
Francis and her friends come together to teach him a dance lesson he will never forget! The production is an ideal introduction to young people to contemporary dance and teaches children, while reminding parents, that it is easy for bad things to happen right under our noses, as freedom can be taken away before we know it.
“With Francis Footwork I wanted to create a story that had dance as its central character and to have someone who was born to dance and danced from morning to night,” David Bolger tells me. “So I created the character of Francis Footwork and created a world around her where she might dance but also where something could get in the way of her dancing. It was the dance that drove me to make this piece.
“I’ve set it in a kind of nightclub or a dancefloor. I was thinking of the kingdom being the dance floor and I started with the point of view that everyone can dance, even when they say they can’t dance. Then I started thinking about the idea of having two left feet and having a character who has learned to dance happily with that. So we have King Two Lefties and he is much loved. He has a very specific way of dancing and he wants to encourage everyone to dance but there is one character that does not like dancing and that’s Colonel Headbanger who sets out to stop dancing.
'The beauty of the Mick Lally Theatre for me is that the audience can become completely submerged in the world and will see the dancers up close'
"The story is about celebrating dance and how Francis wins people over with her dancing. There is a lot of fun in it, I wanted to do something that had a lot of fun and joy. Francis overcomes the issues and she uses her best friend Music; not only can she hear it she can see it so we play with all those concepts to create the world in which the story can take place.”
Francis Footwork features music composed by Denis Clohessy and also employs live camera feeds that convey close-ups of the dancing but can also change the environment very quickly so that the show has a vibrant energy when needed lots of nuance and detail.
The venue of Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre also adds to the show’s impact. “I wanted to have a bit more physical conversation with the audience,” Bolger explains. “The beauty of the Mick Lally Theatre for me is that the audience can become completely submerged in the world and will see the dancers up close, and I am excited about that and the space has shaped how we are telling the story.”
Francis Footwork runs from Wednesday October 16 to Sunday 20 at the Mick Lally Theatre, Druid Lane. Following the 7pm performances on October 16 and 19 the audience will be able to meet characters from the story and ask any questions they have about the show. The cast will then guide the audience through some of the key movement sequences from the performance, encouraging everyone to explore the choreography in a lively, fun, and individual way.