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Donohoe: West Coast to East End

Donohoe: West Coast to East End

: Courtesy The Unhidden Collective.

Frances Donohoe [DA ’06] debuts a new theater/dance company, The Unhidden Collective, in far-away London, and — surprise! — it’s a hit right out of the box.

Frances Donohoe grew up in Sitka and got her B.F.A. at Cornish, but she has put her skills to work a long ways away, in England. Her new company, The Unhidden Collective, co-directed with Londoner Olivia Preye Bradbury, just debuted with the premiere of its first piece, The Fish Tales Of Alaska. The East End theater in which it played is a stone’s throw from the site of this past summer’s Olympics. The directors call The Fish Tales of Alaska, “a cross arts collaboration involving dance, electronic music, vocals, live art and film.”

How could a story based on fishing in Alaska capture the imagination of sophisticated London audiences? Partly by expanding what we think of as a story. “The piece aims to develop ways of telling stories without relying on reams of text and through the wealth of creativity that can be unleashed through making interdisciplinary work,” the directors write. And it did capture audiences. “What’s Peen Seen?” writer Adam Peeny called Fish Tales “one of the freshest, most intriguing productions of late 2012.” He goes on to pun, “This production will keep you hooked from beginning to end.”

The Londoneer, which wrote “this is a really magical and other-wordly piece of theatre – superb!” describes the work well: “With the pregnant wife of a lost fisherman (played by Laura Freeman) acting as narrator, it involves documentary footage and shadow puppet sequences interspersed with sweeping modern dance from two members of the cast, the ‘Waves’, while a trio of accappela singers, the ‘Fishes’, provide tight vocal harmonies to accompany a hypnotic score.”

Donohoe began dancing when she was 10 and has been involved with international dance work for the past 13 years, touring, teaching, performing, choreographing and working with cultural exchanges around the United States and Europe. She has been working with company and school Vendetta Mathea in France since 2000 and has performed, taught and choreographed for the company touring to places including Martinique, France and China. She graduated from Cornish in 2006 with a B.F.A. and Honours in Dance performance, teaching and choreography. During her time there she performed solo roles from some of America’s greatest choreographers including Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels, and Jose Limon’s A Suit from Choreographic Offerings. Since coming to the UK, Frances has continued to teach community classes in East London and Dance Movement Therapy Classes at the Helen Bamber Foundation. In addition to co-directing The Fish Tales of Alaska, Frances also co-directs Tangled Dance, a contemporary cabaret company, and A Bed Time Story Collective.


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