First of all: David Bolger on dance, a magical childhood and the power of dogs


David Bolger (52) is a choreographer, dancer and director. He has worked in theater and opera. The founder of the dance company Coiscéim is known for his inventive work. He lives in Dublin.

how were you as a kid

I was very shy, but I had a colorful imagination. I grew up in Sandymount on Strand Road across from the beach. I went swimming in the summer and we had all these green spaces around us. We grew up in the 1980s and didn’t have any money. Nobody had anything, but we had our dreams.

You grew up on an interesting street…

It was quite a theatrical path – we had German-born cabaret artist Agnes Bernelle on one side and actor Christopher Casson on the other. It was extraordinary to have these influences on my life. At low tide we saw Christopher walking on the beach with his hands behind his back, reciting and learning his lines.

And Agnes?

She was otherworldly to us and she was really nice. She took me to Project Arts Center when I was seven and she took me to a Saturday acting class. I found this world incredible.

Which three words best describe you?

Passionate about things I do, happy and optimistic.

What drives you?

I love working with people who are passionate about what they do.

How did your journey in dance and choreography begin?

My sisters used to go to a tap dance class nearby and I followed them. When I was 16, my father asked me what I wanted to be. When I told him I wanted to be a dancer, he said I had to do ballet. He signed me up with Dublin City Ballet when I was 16. And I went after school. My father was a transport operator, but I think he put me to the test. It worked.

And you passed the exam?

I was using my imagination and creating things all the time, so it felt like a natural progression. I don’t remember ever deciding that.

What does dancing mean to you?

I remember reading this line: “There are shortcuts to happiness and dancing is one of them.” It’s so true. When you dance every day, you feel like you’ve unleashed some happiness in your body.

You sing while you dance…

I sing to myself – humming and trying to get in tune with the vibrations of my body. So much is coming that sometimes we need to keep our attitude.

Who are your role models?

Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire for Pure Escape. And the Nicholas Brothers really caught my attention. They were two tap dancing brothers, African American and probably the biggest dance group I’ve ever seen. They were in a movie called Stormy weather where they danced up and down a flight of stairs. They made it look effortless and very sporty.

You are working on an opera “Orfeo ed Euridice”

This is my first year working at the Blackwater Opera Festival and I am directing and choreographing it. It is based on Greek myth and is a huge emotional journey. Gluck wrote ballets that advance the narrative. It’s really interesting storytelling in dance. It is a perfect opera about isolation and how Orfeo mourns his love. It just connects directly to our emotions.

Best advice given?

You’re only as good as your last gig, so give everything you do 120pc.

Best advice you give?

Be true to yourself.

What are you reading?

Ulysses. I skipped to the last chapter. I was asked to respond to chapter four.

What are you doing to laugh?

I’ve always wanted a dog – and during lockdown I got one from Wicklow Animal Rescue. His name is Alex and I love going to the park with him and throwing the ball. He just wants to play – Playing is very important in our lives, sometimes we forget. Just allow yourself to be silly.

Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice runs at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival from May 31st to June 6th First of all: David Bolger on dance, a magical childhood and the power of dogs

Fry Electronics Team

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