Yes, contemporary dance can be a little scary for newcomers. You worry that you won't understand, that you will be left behind but, in the right hands, contemporary dance can become the most accessible of art forms, the purest.
And hands don't get much safer than those presenting the most impressive opening double bill for this year's Dublin Dance Festival featuring Jodi Melnick, Burt Barr and Yasuko Yokoshi.
So what if you've never heard of them, they're true dance masters. Just take a chance and you might find yourself having one of the most memorable nights out. The setting for this dramatic dance-off is IMMA's Great Hall, one venue that lives up to its titular greatness. And if this isn't participative enough, you can get your own groove on at the Bumper2Bumper headphone disco in IMMA's courtyard tomorrow night. High heels not recommended on those cobbles.
SATURDAY, MAY 14
Bartosz Kolata, South Studios, Dublin 8
Nothing is ever quite as it seems in the artistic world of Bartosz Kolata. Peer closer at one of his apparently serene scenes and you will notice a body floating by, a blood-drenched rag of humanity collapsed in a corner, a zombie roaming ghost-like among the crowd. Kolata has been living in Dublin for the past four years, seeing the menace that lurks in the everyday.
Now we're not suggesting this Polish artist has been ominously wandering the streets like Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, recording the grim horrors that we co-exist with. But he does bring an outsider's eye to the city we take for granted. And this has been put to keen use for his latest exhibition of striking and thought-provoking paintings. Kolata paints big, meaning there's no place to hide and the results are able to discomfort as much as intrigue. This show runs until May 29 in our favourite new studio space.
SUNDAY, MAY 15
The Sunshine Boys, The Loft Venue, George's Quay, Limerick
This current economic situation, we don't like using the word recession, has forced many to think outside the box, to make their own work and then see if they can get paid at least something for it rather than sitting at home waiting for work to come to them. And Limerick's Bottom Dog Theatre Company have always been proactive. They are currently in the middle of a string of four American plays being presented on the four Sundays of May, the timely gift being the audience are invited to pay what they can.
Neil Simon's classic tale of ageing vaudeville stars bickering as they attempt to revive their act will be directed today by Mike Finn and will star Brendan Conroy and Paschal Scott. And the remaining Sundays will see Noelle Browne directing Ed Graczyk's nostalgic Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean on Sunday 22. And the series concludes with one of the oldest American comedies The Front Page, helmed by New York director, Patrick Byrnes.
MONDAY, MAY 16
Triur, Nuns' Island Theatre, Galway
The traditional music scene will never get stale and stodgy when it has fresh new bands such as Triur making their presence felt. Comprising award-winning Galway harpist Úna Ní Fhlannagáin on harp and vocals, Mayo's Ger Chambers on accordion, and Breton Brewen Favrau on pipes, whistle and vocals, together they bring a suitably diverse range of influences to the creative process, including the energy of the céilí bands, the rich heritage of the piping traditions of Brittany and Scotland, and the sean-nós of Galway. They formed less than a year ago and their distinctive blend of sounds past and present has been winning fans. This Nuns' Island date is the final one of a Galway tour, for details of previous outings see the website below.
TUESDAY, MAY 17
Sufjan Stevens, Olympia, Dublin 2.
Cult singer Sufjan Stevens isn't one for half measures or empty gestures. He first came to attention with a brace of meticulously constructed albums that paid lavish tribute to the states of Michigan and Illinois. At the time, he let it be known his ambition was to offer musical homage to every one of America's 50 states. But when the second of those records, Illinois, became an unlikely hit he discovered he wasn't equipped to deal with quasi-fame. Retreating to his man-cave, he emerged only sporadically to present curious side projects (2009's The BQE was a profoundly bizarre orchestral tribute to the pot-hole strewn motor-way running between Brooklyn and Queens). His proper comeback was last year with the release of the equally strange Age of Adz, a symphonic oddity inspired by the ravings of 'naive artist' Royal Robinson. In places it was brilliant but, mostly, it was bonkers. When last he performed in Dublin, in 2006, Stevens brought a backing band wearing angel wings, a twee gesture he has since distanced himself from. Judging by the angsty interviews he's been giving lately, expect his two-night stand at the Olympia to be a rather more fraught affair.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 18
Un Homme Qui Crie/ A Screaming Man, Limited Release
A powerful and deceptively slow-moving drama set in the war-torn central African republic of Chad, Mahamat Saleh-Haroun's A Screaming Man tells the story of a chap who thinks he has it all. Adam (Youssouf Djaoro) is a former national swimming champion who has found a cushy job as a pool attendant at a posh hotel. He loves his work and his wife and grown-up son, but Adam's head is in the sand: his country is embroiled in a nasty civil war, and his self-absorbed denial of this harsh reality is about to land him in a world of trouble. Un Homme Qui Crie is memorably paced and shot, and provides a rare insight into life in one of the world's most unfortunate countries.
THURSDAY, MAY 19
danleo, KTcontemporary, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Random Specific is the title of the first major solo show by the rather talented danleo. Coming from an animation and graphic design background, danleo has created a unique style that involves using spray paint on canvas but applying it with a paintbrush. The results are boldly graphic, with a visual language all of their own. He creates wild, visceral worlds which he populates with colourful low lifes, omnipresent deities, and animal idols. His work straddles graffiti culture, pop art and graphic illustration. Presented in association with le cool -- Dublin, this promises to be a most provocative exhibition.
Day & Night