THE IRISH INDEPENDENT Wednesday 11 May 2010

Five Ways to Drown

Junk Ensemble opened Dublin Dance Festival 2010 with a quirky splash.

Exploring how we might metaphorically drown -- or play -- in everyday life, five dancers aged 11 to 70, move in the ambiguous zone between waving, drowning, childhood memories and the unexpected joys of domestic DIY.

Talented identical twins Jessica and Megan Kennedy have created a magical inside/outside world full of inter-generational musings, melancholy moments, offbeat humour and imagination.

Everything from Boy Scout gear to sign language is given a twirl. The title of Stevie Smith's poem 'Not Waving but Drowning' is even tapped out in Morse code.

Using choreography sourced in the everyday -- from eating toast to gargling -- Junk Ensemble treats us to acrobatics on a couch, in a bathtub, on a trampoline, and some hilarious wallpapering.

Lit and designed by Aedin Cosgrove, it is thought through right down to audience members getting their own special chair.

Dance is sprinkled throughout, to Denis Clohessy's subtly evocative soundscape. Teetering from the playful to the sinister, we hear it's possible to drown in a bath as grandmother-figure Mary O'Connor puts armbands on 11 year-old Joshua Dyson, then times him holding his breath in the tub.

Demonstrating his Boy Scout knots, this young bright spark is variously lassoed by a twin into a tug-of-war rope duet, heartlessly pushed away, and turned head over heels in a pas-de-deux with Lee Clayden. In this exploration of masculinity, Dyson could be the embodiment of Clayden's younger self.

Junk Ensemble's worldview takes a sadder turn when O'Connor hooks herself to a hospital drip and waltzes with Megan Kennedy, who carefully supports her fragile head in her han ds.

Junk Ensemble allows the dance steps of the everyday to surface in this wonderful, humane festival-opener.