Catherine Young Dance was established in 2014, after Catherine returned to Ireland from training and working as a dance artist in San Francisco and New York. She carried with her the extraordinary influences of her dance teachers who were mostly African-American. They infused in her a deep understanding of dance anthropology and dance history as well as certainty about the essentiality of dance and its power to make change. They also gifted her with a love of African dance which is at the bedrock of her practice.
Once back in Ireland, Catherine sought to embrace these fundamentals in developing her company and work. With her understanding of African dance, Catherine knew how dance can function in society, not on the periphery but at the heart of it. Catherine Young Dance was set up to make dance matter at every level of society, a core part of who we are and of what we do as humans.
Five words jotted down in a notebook guided Catherine’s thinking then as now: human, raw, visceral, truthful, transcendent.
The company ethos holds a deep commitment to building community, to social justice and to working through dance to communicate vital stories and ideas, especially from those on the margins. We believe in bringing people of all cultures together through dance and in finding our common points of connection. This is more important than ever in Ireland and elsewhere as countries seek to welcome and integrate people who are migrating through desire or circumstance.
Since 2014, Catherine and the company have built up a significant body of work and influence as artists and activists, moving hearts and minds towards our common humanity through dance. We have toured nationally and internationally with a major highlight being an invitation to open the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival in Palestine in 2017 with Welcoming the Stranger – a work Catherine had made in Ireland during the height of the refugee crisis. Bringing this show to Palestine and being there had a powerful impact on the company. It propelled subsequent work looking at human rights, particularly considering those in Direct Provision (State of Exception) and in Palestine (Floating on a Dead Sea).
Over the coming years, we will continue to be inspired by what is going on in the world and by the communities we engage with. We will respond to the beauty, the wonder, the questions and challenges we face today as humans. We look forward to making more work that has the power to make change: human, raw, visceral, truthful, transcendent.