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Junk Ensemble is an award-winning Dublin-based dance company founded in 2004 by joint Artistic Directors and identical twin sisters Megan Kennedy and Jessica Kennedy to create works of brave and imaginative dance theatre. Previous Artists in Residence at Tate Britain and current Cork Dance Artists in Residence at Firkin Crane, the company have won Best Production Award, Best Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Performer, Culture Ireland Touring Award, Excellence and Innovation Award and are listed a Sunday Times Highlight. Their productions are often created in collaboration with artists from other disciplines to produce a rich mix of visual and performance styles that seeks to challenge the traditional audience performer relationship. This approach has led to productions being created in non-traditional or found spaces as well as more conventional theatre spaces. Junk Ensemble’s work continues to tour nationally and internationally.
Co-Artistic Directors: Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy
Producer: Gwen Van Spijk
Visit Junk Ensemble website @ www.junkensemble.com
Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy of Junk Ensemble curated a two-strand symposia entitled ‘The Book and The Body’ in National University of Ireland, Galway and University College Dublin in April 2018, as part of Dublin Dance Festival partnering with Dance Ireland and Live Collision Festival. The symposia surrounded a new Junk Ensemble dance-theatre production, an off-site work titled Dolores, which is inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s visual and disturbing novel ‘Lolita’, and premiered in May 2018.
‘The Book and The Body’ Symposia was comprised of panel discussions, masterclasses, a viewing of an open rehearsal, roundtable discussions and international keynote speakers, and took place at the National University of Ireland Galway: 13-14 April and University College Dublin: 20-21 April, covering themes which include: body & literature, gender & performance, sexuality and abuse, trauma & memory, how the body is represented in literature through the male perspective, and Vladimir Nabokov’s novel ‘Lolita’.
Inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s visual and disturbing novel ‘Lolita’, Dolores is a powerful and uncompromising work finally told by a silenced girl. Dolores gives a voice to the neglected and traumatised child, the candy girl full of hope and the enraged woman full of fire and revenge. Performed by the acclaimed Mikel Murfi and Amanda Coogan, Irish & international dancers and musicians and exquisitely designed as an off-site piece, Dolores digs into the poetry of the novel and exposes the unsettling abuse and tragedy of a young girl through imagery, song, dance and text.
Direction and Choreography: Jessica Kennedy, Megan Kennedy created in collaboration with the cast.
Dolores is funded by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and commissioned by Dublin Dance Festival. Supported by Dublin City Council, Project Arts Centre, Dance Ireland, Dance City Newcastle.
In collaboration with Brokentalkers, It Folds is a reverie. A dream-like story of death, grief, beauty and humanity. It’s a poignant and humorous portrait of the tragicomic events that shape our everyday lives.
Fusing the distinctive choreography of Junk Ensemble with the innovative theatricality of Brokentalkers, It Folds features a large cast of Irish and local Bristol performers brought together to present an assortment of characters who attempt to find connection through their shared humanity.
Winner of the Best Performer at Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival 2015
Exploring blindness and invisibility, Dusk Ahead shows the murky fading light of dusk when it is difficult to discern what is real and what is imagined. Dusk is the hour between dog and wolf, between domestic and wild.
The talented cast of international and Irish performers also act as the band, playing live music throughout the piece. The visual design incorporates hundreds of golden threads stretched across the stage, which are dimly and beautifully lit through carefully constructed lighting.
Dusk Ahead was presented at Dublin Theatre Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2013 to wide critical acclaim. It is touring to New York and venues throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2015.
2013, 70 min
Witty dance theatre meets mythical chamber opera in The Falling Song. Male physicality is pushed to the extremities to explore self-destruction, invincibility and failure in this compelling production. Performed by an international all-male cast and a live children’s choir, The Falling Song looks at the nature of flying and falling and the dangerous relationship between the two.
The strength of this piece lies in the Kennedys’ considerable skill in allowing images, sounds and movement to sit side-by-side in their production without one element undermining or overwhelming the others.
Featuring an ambitious stage set, with towering ladders, stacked mattresses, mounds of apples and a local children’s choir, the performance investigates the simple metaphor of falling; falling in and out of love and falling from grace.
The sub-plot is male identity, explored by the excellent cast of male dancers (Jesse Kovarsky, Omar Gordon, Eddie Kay and Carl Harrison).
2012, 63 min
Sometimes We Break is a dance and sound promenade piece that explores incompleteness and ‘parts to a whole’. Leading the audience on a designed journey of movement and sound, the piece focuses on things that stop working, things that are interrupted and missing parts.
Originally commissioned and performed in Tate Britain, Sometimes We Break is a collaboration between choreographers Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy, composer and sound designer Tom Lane, visual designer Lian Bell and dance artists Justine Cooper, Carl Harrison and Jessica Kennedy.
The piece creates different physical, visual and musical environments throughout the promenade performance. The company was interested in re-inventing the piece into a new space to highlight the shifting sense of belonging and the idea of ‘home’. The movement derives from the theme of being interrupted and the question of where the body is taken when it is between two places.
This sense of incompleteness is demonstrated in a section whereby the performers cut off certain movement before it can finish. In another section, toy soldiers demarcate the performers’ path forcing them to continually shift their physical sense of belonging. The space begins to exist fully when the performers inhabit it. By occupying the space, we make it our home.
2012, 30 minutes
Bird with boy is a beautiful and fragile promenade piece by Junk Ensemble with Jo Timmins. Unravelling with fractured stories and littered with moving images and live music, this immersive dance installation concerns itself with things that end before they should.
The audience is lead from room to room, saturated with moving images and live music; fractured stories unravel and a quiet tension builds.
Bird with boy is performed by a cast of eleven; with two musicians, three dancers and six boys from Company B, Ireland’s only contemporary dance group for younger boys.
2011, 75 min
Winner of Best Production and nominated for both Best Design and Best Female Performer at Dublin Fringe Festival 2011
The living room is strewn on the front garden for all to see.
Five Ways to Drown looks into the interior of peoples’ lives and exposes the sadness, the absurdity and the banality through vignettes of dance and installation.
In this public display of the private, the choreography of everyday life becomes extraordinary. Continuing Junk Ensemble’s explorations of how spaces can be reinvented, the piece creates a different perspective on live performance.
Performed by three dancers, a young boy and an older woman, Five Ways to Drown shows us a picture of a family with the light going out: a little boy in a bath, a man wallpapering on a trampoline, a woman attached to an IV drip.
The movement is both violent and expressive with the dancers supporting each other in a climbing section; throwing a boy repeatedly into the grass; silently arguing on a sofa; spitting water and then dancing on a wet wooden floor.
2010, 55 min
Drinking Dust is a haunting dance theatre piece that pulls together fragmented stories, lost people and forgotten memories.
The piece is a collaboration between two highly acclaimed Dublin-based companies, Junk Ensemble and Brokentalkers, and is performed by two dancers, a small girl and an older man.
There are stories of a little girl on a tricycle, an older man with a birthday cake, secrets told through megaphones, separated audiences and compelling choreography.
Drinking Dust was awarded the Culture Ireland Touring Award 2008, nominated for an Audience Award at Dublin Fringe Festival 2008 and listed as an Irish Times Highlight of 2008.
The piece premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2008 and toured to The Arches Theatre Festival in Glasgow; Dublin Dance Festival; Teatromania Festival, Poland; and Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris in 2009.
2008, 60 min
Junk Ensemble completed the short film Blind Runner in 2013, commissioned by Dance Ireland
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June 17 2019, at 01:10pm
Project Arts Centre is powered by creative ideas, critical thinking and debate. Artists and audiences are often first to forecast the future – for good and for ill. As we look to our future in an uncertain world, which is leaning towards populism, tokenism, and right wing conservative politics, we want to engage in a conversation about contemporary Ireland and the arts. We want to peel back the skin to see how artists are faring and examine the ways in which our arts community can reflect, mediate, challenge and shape our collective fate. Where does our future lie? As part…Read More
May 14 2019, at 11:31am
Upcoming Artist Talk event from Emma Wolf Haugh around her ongoing research will be presented later this year. Date and Location TBC. This event will present the artists research towards new work from Haugh in 2020 Domestic Optimism begins with the work and continually expanding legacy of the Irish-born, self-taught, modernist architect and designer, Eileen Gray. A considerable amount of attention has been given to Gray’s work in recent years but, more often than not, the queerness inherent in her life and design is sidelined or ignored. I am interested in what comes to bear on the construction of legacy and what…Read More