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  • Chris O'Rourke


Sibéal Davitt in Minseach. Image Ste Murray.


Killorglin might have Puck Fair, but Draíocht Blanchardstown has its very own Minseach. Irish for she-goat. A sean-nós, swift footed she-goat no less. In the brilliant Minseach, dancer Sibéal Davitt explores dance, the culture of entertainment, Irish heritage and language, and her own personal journey. A work whose deceptive simplicity works on you even when you don’t realise it's working on you.

Any production on Irish dance which features Sylvester in its pre-show music is sure to take some unconventional routes. Sinead Diskin's superb score incorporating the traditional and the modern, with percussive dance rhythms sitting easily alongside traditional music by Cormac Begley. Its marriage of old and new, of tradition and innovation, of English and Irish sees Minseach introduce its basic step before soaring in a passionate fusion of dance styles. Davitt's strikingly brilliant opening sequence so good it could well have been its finale.

Yet Davitt has more than dance on her mind. Cutting through the veil of tinsel, Davitt proves quite the charmer, exercising her warm smile and winning personality. She's had lots of practice. Putting in 30,000 steps a week is nothing compared to how much it takes faking it till you make it. And Davitt, winner of Glas Vegas in 2009, knows only too well how to make her judges happy, oozing personality until the dancer disappears behind her own image. Her world shrinking from a platform on which to dance freely to the neon shock of a judges buzzer. Down further to a tiny, multi-coloured square on which she can barely stand. Yet slowly, showing the courage of a wild she-goat, Davitt learns to recover her joy. Swimming through a sea of tinsel to do it, the separation not always easy. Shedding the past in the folding and dropping of a jacket. Returning again to a basic step and simple tune. Not so much a homecoming as a new beginning.

Begging the question where will it all end? At what point does exploration turn sean-nós into something no longer recognisable? Bilingualism might be all well and good, but two dances usually create a fusion. And Davitt's fusion of freedom and form, of tradition and innovation, has all the hallmarks of breaking new ground. Not in the sense of seeing something new, but rather like seeing something that was always there that you hadn't quite noticed before. Being at once both fresh and familiar. So where does it all end? Where does it say it has to end? Wherever Davitt is going she is trailblazing. Always respecting and acknowledging sean-nós, she is its brilliant ambassador. But Davitt is wildly and courageously exciting when she ventures off on her own. Making dance all the richer for it. Minseach. It's for shows like this that the Fringe exists.

Minseach, performed by Sibéal Davitt, co-presented by Dublin Fringe Festival and Draíocht Blanchardstown, ran at Draíocht Blanchardstown as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2021.


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