Improvisation and Activating Space

‘Everything is empty space and points of light’ – Jeanette Winterson


Saturday 13th January

10am-3pm in the View NUIG



A 4 / 5 hour workshop open to dancers and people interested in movement. Participants don’t need to be highly trained but experience in Dance is preferable.


Cathy Walsh and James Riordan


In this workshop we will delve into somatic exploration, activating sensations and bringing them out into the shared space. We will work individually, in pairs, and with the group, training our bodies and activating the space within and between in preparation for improvisation and authentic movement.



Using visualisation and exploration we will firstly activate:

the breath, sensation, communication, and imagination.


Working with the space within the body we will begin with the breath, our initial inspiration. By playing with positive and negative space in our bodies and in the room around us, we try to expand the space in each cell


Solo and in partners, exploring and activating layers of the body, concentrating on sensation. We will try to penetrate the boundaries of the body by singing / sounding into each others bones.

The Bones: the complex and individual architecture of the body, the support structure.


The Muscles: the power house.

The Liquid systems: Blood, cerebro-spinal, etc. the sense of flow. The Skin: the surface, the point of communication/exchange.


In this process of sensitising the body, we are charging it up for communication. We begin emerging out of self, towards the other. First using eye contact and then activating/charging our hands, we move towards each other, mingling our kinespheres, and coming into ‘almost contact’ and then finally touch.

We play with proximity / distance and maintaining connection.

We will do some partner exercises to stimulate sensation in each other and inspire movement for improvisation.


We will make small journeys around the room in pairs, one being led by the other, using sound and sensation to activate the imagination of the other.


Once our bodies are activated we will explore techniques in charging and energising the space between two people. We will work on concentrating and empowering the gaze and use the space between to examine the falling and rising of different relationships from movement in the room.

Internalising and expressing; we work with a movement vocabulary of opening and closing, bringing energy in and sending it out. We will then use exercises to exploring the elements within our bodies and embodying acid, paper, oil as they interact with the space to generate further material and movement qualities for improvisation late. .

Improvised Movement

5,5,5: We perform our Last Dances, 5 minutes each of dances to music as if these are the last dances we’ll ever do; alone, with a partner and together as the whole group.

Finally we move into performing short solo improvisations or authentic movement with witnessing.


James Riordan

James Riordan trained in physical theatre at LISPA in London and the ATP in Berlin and studied dance at Otterbein College in the U.S.. He was a core member of the alt-drag troupe The LipSinkers in London for 3 years, touring and performing extensively. He has worked as a  with the ENO and the Vaults London, Absurda Comica in Berlin, been a movement director with companies including Heads Bodies Legs in the U.K and Ishka Films in Dublin. He also facilitates workshops with children and adults all over the world.

He is currently performance directing for Macnas, teaching physical theatre with Blue Teapot and has just completed residencies with Song of the Goat and Broken Talkers. He has been recently chosen as one one of the Druid FUEL artists for 2017.

Cathy Walsh is a choreographer, performer, and lighting technician from Ireland, based in Berlin. She holds a BA in Theatre Studies from University College Cork, an MA in Contemporary Dance from the University of Limerick, and a post-graduate in Ensemble Performance Practice from Queen’s University Belfast.

She facilitates workshops to adults and teenagers in Germany and Ireland and really enjoys the direct connection and exchange that facilitation provides. Her work focuses on improvisation, intimacy, and collaboration with the audience. She is currently interested in investigating concepts of Time, national identity and the politics of touch. She has an ongoing one to one performative spooning practice called SpoonTalk.

She has performed and presented work all over Ireland, Europe, and North America. She is currently collaborating with dance artist Maria Svensson on a new duet, to be performed in Ireland next year.

Cathy and James have been friends and collaborators for 10 years and have worked together internationally.

To book email