By Ethan Shea
On Tuesday, September 13, Liz Roche Company put on the first professional dance performance in the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. This performance, titled “Yes and Yes!”, is inspired by the 18 sections of James Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses. The show ran for a total of 70 minutes with no intermissions and was met with a standing ovation.
Formed in 1999, Liz Roche Company is an Irish contemporary dance group led by choreographer Liz Roche. In 2020, Roche herself was elected to Aosdána, an affiliation of artists whose work has contributed significantly to Ireland’s creative arts. Among other achievements, Liz Roche Company has produced more than twenty original productions and performed in several nations, from China to the United States.
Regarding Tuesday’s show, there were a total of four dancers who took on the demanding performance (Diarmuid Armstrong, Sarah Cerneaux, Grace Cuny, and Mufutau Yusuf), and each of them left everything on the stage.
The performance managed to fit an immense amount of material from Ulysses‘s lengthy body of text into the relatively brief performance. In a post-performance Q&A with Dr. Joseph Lennon, Villanova’s Director of Irish Studies, Roche explained that she was taken aback by how clear Joyce portrays location throughout the piece. “Yes and Yes!” strives to maintain that quality of the text through Roche’s choreography.
Liz Roche Company would not have graced the stage of the John and Joan Center for the Performing Arts without the help of the Center for Irish Studies. With study abroad opportunities, Irish language courses, and classes offered in seven different disciplines, Irish Studies at Villanova is full of exciting academic opportunities.
If you’re interested in learning more about Irish Studies, check out the Irish Studies Research Guide on Falvey Library’s website.
Moreover, Falvey grants access to ample amounts of information on contemporary dance. For example, you can learn all about contemporary dance with Marc Strauss’ book Looking at Contemporary Dance: A Guide for the Internet Age, available for viewing online.
Keep an eye out for more Irish events planned for the Fall Semester, including a musical performance by Ian Lynch of the Dublin folk music group “Lankum” on October 20.
Ethan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.