Tipperary Dance is an artist-led organisation, co-founded and directed by Alexandre Iseli, a dance artist and choreographer driven by a particular vision developed over three decades of artistic practice across Europe and the world.
Tipperary Dance develops a year-round programme founded in 2008 to support artists and offer creative dance spaces for our communities. Our year culminates with the Tipperary Dance International Festival, which usually kicks off in the second week of October.
‘My work, both as a creative artist and as a programme curator, is an agency that channels the invisible complexity of the human being into something perceivable.
Whether I am creating a piece with professional dancers, young dancers, or aficionados, my project is the same: building a space where individuals can embrace and express their complexity, richness and contradictions, something that dance can do particularly well. This is in itself a political statement that invites to accept the diversity and complexity among and within all human beings.
Each dance artist brings to life a singular, embodied impression of reality, filtered through their perceptions, life experience, and an acutely tuned attention to the relationship between thought process and physical experience.
What matters most to me in dance is the ability to experience, uncover and share, in the purest possible way, the embodied expression of our human nature, embedded as it is in a complex world of physical realities, relationships, thought processes, history and contradictions.
We aim to provide spectators with opportunities of seeing, feeling, accepting and enjoying the simple pleasure of that singularity, and the essentially unfathomable mystery of alterity.’ – Alexandre Iseli.
Tipperary Dance encapsulates the prolific range of activities undertaken by Alexandre Iseli and Jazmín Chiodi since 2008, when they founded Tipperary Dance Platform.
The rebranding, under the new direction of Alexandre Iseli, aims to enfold their decades-long experience as artists, managers and curators, while staying true to the core values that drove Tipperary Dance Platform since its inception: care, understanding, integrity, tenacity and generosity of spirit.
As an artist-led, non-profit organisation, Tipperary Dance acts as an international creative space that engages with artists and citizens while building and providing infrastructure(s) for the art form of dance.
This is made possible thanks to a collaborative approach that involves a network of local, stakeholders and national and international partners that includes dance companies, independent artists, public authorities, venues, festivals and other dance organisations. And, of course, our audiences and participants, and all the communities we have formed throughout the years and that have made this journey possible, helping us to deliver our highest ambition: artistic excellence and social meaningfulness.
A space to support an art form
In the last decade, Jazmin Chiodi and Alexandre Iseli have relentlessly elaborated a space for support and encounter, centred on artists and the relevance of artists’ work. A space in which dance pieces are not an end but a mean: a media between artists, their interrogations, and the public. We have tried to articulate collaborative relationships where artists and Tipperary Dance work hand in hand in a supportive dialogue, to feed the pulse of a vivid community not based on products, but on life experiences, relationships, reflection and creativity.
Tipperary Dance and its international dance festival are led and curated by artists. With a track record counting over two decades performing, producing and touring internationally, they are well-aware of the reality that artists experience day-to-day. More than a providential infrastructure, Tipperary Dance embodies a receptive interface, a supportive environment where live interaction empowers the voice of committed people (artists, partners, communities), helps them reach out and enrich our lives.
Since 2010, Tipperary Dance has hosted many artists in residence, providing not only a studio but also a considerate external eye on their work by means of mentoring sessions. Masterclasses and Laboratories mentored by outstanding artists from all over Europe have fed the dance community with invaluable opportunities to experiment, receive fresh information and build up skills. Bursaries have facilitated the participation of artists in the Tipperary Dance International Festival. Fellowships have provided opportunities for a more sustained practice, symposiums have favoured cross-sector encounters with academic partners.
An artist-led programme focused on artistic excellence
In late 2008, Jazmin Chiodi and Alexandre Iseli are appointed dance artists in Residence at the Excel Arts Centre in Tipperary, under the auspice of the Centre itself and the Local authority, Tipperary County Council. This sets off a journey towards the development of infrastructures, partnerships and programmes dedicated to injecting a new dimension into the County’s artistic life, and new ideas/possibilities into the professional dance sector. The programme unfolds under the name Tipperary Dance.
Tipperary Dance’s international dance festival is founded in 2010, marked by three peculiarities: it is artist-led, curated, and distant from any sizeable city. Several conclusions are drawn from this state of play: the festival must gather all available partnerships around the County. The festival must rely on creativity to combine resources in a critically under-resourced region and dance sector. Tipperary Dance must build its own regional dance ecology and create momentum to revive an artistic life that will attract both artists and audiences.
Focused on the highest artistic standards, the festival attracts some of the best contemporary dance artists across Europe, the likes of Tânia Carvalho, Lost Dog, Alexandra Waierstall, Pierre Pontvianne, François Veyrunes, Affari Esteri, including artists at the forefront of creation in Ireland, such as Liz Roche, Oona Doherty, John Scott.
A comprehensive development programme
Based on three strands:
Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland Tipperary Dance quickly understands that its ambition to create increasing opportunities depends on its ability to develop links with the outside. Information, resources, visibility and reputation are keys. An intense activity of relation-building and networking follows, generating interaction with companies, artists and organisations, attending many European platform events like the Düsseldorf Tanzmesse. Heads start turning from the European dance community towards the small locality of Tipperary. In 2016, the Tipperary Dance programme is acknowledged by the European Dance Network as an example and study case on best practice for relevance in the European dance sector. To date, the TDP programme and its curators have raised funds and partnerships with a large number of stakeholders including:
Dance in the community
Everyone has a body, and Tipperary Dance considers that dance is not exclusively a specialists’ trade: in the last decade, more than three thousand children have taken part in TDP’s ongoing dance in schools programme, festival workshops or other events. Several groups participated in the creation of pieces that were performed in public. The documentary ‘More to Dance’ produced by TDP in 2019 offers a poignant legacy on the profound impact of dance on children’s life, on their desire and ability to take ownership of their decisions, to collaborate peacefully, and on dance’s aptitude to positively shift the way some children are perceived by the adults who mentor them. In another age range, a group of senior women started dancing with Tipperary Dance’s Age in Movement programme: some of them, nearly 80 years old, performed in public, and danced in the short film ‘September Days’ produced by Tipperary Dance. On many occasions, the very inclusive All Day Do Dance events gathered people of all ages and abilities for a full day of dance workshops.
Supporting dance artists
Since 2010, Tipperary Dance has hosted many artists in residence, providing not only a studio but also a considerate external eye on their work by means of mentoring sessions. Masterclasses and Laboratories mentored by outstanding artists from all over Europe have fed the dance community with invaluable opportunities to experiment, receive fresh information and build up skills. Bursaries have facilitated the participation of artists in the festival. Fellowships have provided opportunities for a more sustained practice, symposiums have favoured cross-sector encounters with academic partners.
A social and civic space within a territory
This all-round development perspective drives Tipperary Dance, hand in hand with the professional sector and the public and lead its directors to curate a festival that multiplies forms, places, and opportunities. Tipperary Dance’s festival has been programming international and Irish-based artists, and delivering productions and experimental installations, screendance video sessions, symposiums, masterclass programmes for dancers, community workshops, laboratories, exhibitions, cine-club, and of course performances, in both theatres and non-conventional public spaces. The festival has shown the work of more than 200 artists over more than a decade. An innovatively multi-town and multi-venue programme that illustrates Tipperary Dance’s ability to cultivate high ambitions and stay deeply anchored in the realities of a territory.
By giving equal importance to the Art form and its audience, Tipperary Dance aims to articulate the relationship between the public and a professional community of artists relying on the strength of an existing arts sector. Be it either live performance or video media, each choice was carefully curated: Tipperary Dance envisions dance as a global space for social discussion rather than a consumable good. In a social space, which gathers individuals interconnected through their aptitude for sensitive reflection, TDP’s global vision springs from one source: sensitive bodies.
This positioning lays out an open canvass for questions often ignored, sometimes repressed, and locates dance at the heart of numerous conversations that mirror major issues of our time: difference, equality, sensitivity, ability, gender, health, to name a few. Tipperary Dance creates time, space and availability to address essential topics that tend to be overlooked. It acknowledges that our nature, made of flesh, is complex, sensitive, filled with contradictions and an endless source for creation and discussion. It embraces a vision for a future where the experience of embodiment and public space are vital in our ability for critical thinking, social interaction and civic behaviour.
In 2019, the Tipperary Dance was nominated for the National Age Friendly Ireland Recognition and Achievement Awards for its project ‘Las Muchas’ involving a group of senior citizens, leading to the creation of the screendance film ‘September Days’.
Tipperary Dance and its festival are centred on the people and proud to embrace the legendary Irish traditions of respect and hospitality, that enthuse both audiences and participating artists.
Alexandre Iseli & Jazmin Chiodi, 31 August 2020