curated by David Bolger

in collaboration with Waterways Ireland

A new collection of dances inspired by Dublin’s canals and surroundings

A bench by water.
A place to rest… a spot on the way to work… a point to meet… a space to dream?  

This pilot project brings together CoisCéim Dance Theatre and Waterways Ireland to highlight everyday spaces as creative places through vibrant choreographic commissions by distinctive Dublin based dance artists..

We were delighted to reveal Favour Odusola and Jessie Thompson as our two inaugural commissioned Artists.   Free performances took place in late summer 2023 on the banks of a canals in Dublin city –  see below for performance history.

“I am thrilled with this announcement of a new collaboration with Waterways Ireland. I have long been inspired by the Dublin canals, having lived and worked close to both The Grand Canal and The Royal Canal. Their close proximity to the city centre is an enriching environment that has inspired countless artists throughout the waterways rich history. This pilot project will see CoisCéim Dance Theatre commission several talented contemporary dance artists and choreographers to make work inspired by the canals and their connection to the city. It is a real honour for me to curate the works and I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience these treasures. ” – David Bolger, CoisCéim Dance Theatre

“Waterways Ireland recognises that the arts have a vital role to play in celebrating and maintaining the long-standing connection of Dublin’s canals to the city and its communities. We are excited to collaborate with the pioneering CoisCéim Dance Theatre to produce a new series of performances along the banks of the canals in 2023.” – Louise Dredge, Waterways Ireland



BENCH brings together Waterways Ireland and CoisCéim Dance Theatre to commission and produce a new series of short live performances along the banks of Dublin’s canals – and build a collection of artworks inspired and informed by canals as valued cultural, social, environmental assets in our city.

The project will create a collection of original choreographies that capture the idea of a BENCH by water as an everyday piece of public space infrastructure – a place to rest, a place to enjoy surroundings, a place to contemplate, a place to connect.  It aims to engage the public and local communities with dance in unexpected ways and support the development of the Dublin canals as creative places – through short live performances that:

  • are brand new, one-person commissions
  • are incidental that people ‘happen upon’
  • enable the public to engage with the arts as part of their everyday
  • are staged in synergy with the environment around them (i.e with low production infrastructure)


READ | The Irish Times‘s Michael Seaver interviewed the artists during their rehearsals at CoisCéim Studio
LISTEN | Jessie Thompson and David Bolger talk about the inspiration for BENCH with RTÉ Arena‘s Kay Sheehy




Curator |  David Bolger
Production Manager | Seán Dennehy
Production Coordinator | Caoimhe Coburn Gray
Graphic Design | Alphabet Soup
Waterways Ireland | Louise Dredge and Máirín Ó Cuireáin
Producers | Sarah Latty & Bridget Webster

BENCH #2 | Favour Odusola

Choreographer/Performer | Favour Odusola
Sound Engineer | Alexis Nealon
Filmmaker | Neil O’Driscoll
Technician | Damien Woods
World Premiere – Mount Street Bridge – Grand Canal, Dublin  – 30 August 2023

BENCH #1 | Jessie Thompson

Choreographer/Performer |  Jessie Thompson
Music | Jack Foster
Filmmaker | Neil O’Driscoll
Technician | Laura Rainsford
World Premiere – Spencer Dock – Royal Canal, Dublin – 30 August 2023



Favour Odusola (Proud African King) is a Nigerian Irish multidisciplinary artist who has worked across several contexts from traditional dance & percussion to commercial work and contemporary theatre for over 15 years in Europe (Ireland and London), Africa (Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria), and UAE (Dubai). As a dancer, he co-established UMAKOKO, a dance company that delivers dance-oriented services, such as performances, creative directing, content creation, and artist performance management services, and established UMA, a dance training outfit dedicated to equipping dancers with the skills, information and process of growing as a dancer/dance professional.

As a dancer, producer, curator and actor, he has performed at various festivals and performances including “Dancers for the Inside and Outside”, “EVOLUTIONS” and “Othello” by John Scott for Irish Modern Dance Theatre; “THE WANDERER” by Tom Lane, written by Jessica Traynor, choreographed by John Scott at Cork Midsummer Festival; “STRAWBOYS TOUR” with Rob Heapslip;“NATIVES” a Black canvas x Top 8 Production; and “BREAKING CODES” at Rua Red Theatre.

As a writer, producer and director, he co-created a community-led dance show with his dance company UMAKOKO titled “WAVE the New Chapter” –  a fresh outlook on-stage performance, with dance and music in the spotlight. He recently wrote, directed, produced, and performed his first-ever theatre play titled “EKAABO” commissioned by the Local Live Phase 3 Performance Scheme funded by South County Dublin to a sold-out show in Dublin as part of Mother Tongues Festival. He is an associate artist with Irish Modern Dance Theatre.

Jessie Thompson is a Dublin based Dance Artist. Her evolving work draws on Contemporary and Hip Hop dance styles. In recent times Jessie has performed her solo “CRAWLER” with musician Jason McNamara at Dublin Dance Festival 2022 and 2023; was Choreographer for Liz Roche’s Lighting Design for Dance programme 2022; was one of the “Between Us” cultural exchange residency Artists at DanceBase Scotland; and developed her practice further this year with residencies/awards from Dance Ireland and Galway Dance Project. Jessie performed in United Fall’s “Night Dances” at Dublin Theatre Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is a Step Up Programme 2023 participant with Choreographer Maria Nilsson Waller.

Jessie has shared several short works at the hip hop theatre festival “Dance2Connect” in the  UK and Ireland. She was Project Arts Centre Schools Residency Programme Artist this year.  Jessie also facilitates and curates events in Ireland for multidisciplinary artists as part of her ongoing interest in collaboration with live music and community building.

David is the Artistic Director and co-founder of CoisCéim Dance Theatre. His work has been seen by millions of people worldwide and has received prestigious awards for its innovation, performance and choreography. David has directed and choreographed over 30 original productions for CoisCéim, including Go To Blazes, Francis Footwork, the highly lauded The Wolf and Peter, Body Language, and the major international co-production These Rooms (Irish Times Theatre Award, London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), TATE Liverpool). His work for the company has been presented at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Peak Performances in the USA, Spring Loaded (The Place) and the Brighton Festival in the UK, Ten Days on the Island (Tasmania), Arts Centre Melbourne and Sydney Opera House (Australia). David has received numerous choreographic commissions for theatre and opera including Druid (Ireland), Spoleto Festival (USA), Guthrie Theatre (USA), RTÉ (Ireland), National Theatre (UK), Abbey Theatre (Ireland) and Opera Ireland. He is a member of Aosdána.



Waterways Ireland is the cross-border navigational authority responsible for the management, maintenance, development, and promotion of over 1,000kms of inland navigable waterways, principally for recreational purposes. These waterways comprise of: Grand Canal; Royal Canal; Barrow; Shannon, Shannon-Erne; Erne; Ulster Canal and Lower Bann navigations. Waterways Ireland assets contribute approximately €560m in economic, societal, and environmental value annually. In 2021, the waterways estate received 3.2 million visitors.

In Dublin, Waterways Ireland is responsible for the historic Grand and Royal Canals, which have been a source of great inspiration for artists in the city. Through arts programming, engagement and collaboration, we support the development of creative places in Dublin and contribute to making the areas along the Royal and Grand Canals better places to live, work, and visit.

Find out more at



at Spencer Dock, Dublin 1 | map

Friday 22 September 2023
BENCH #2 | Favour Odusola – 5:00pm
BENCH #1 | Jessie Thompson – 5:30pm

BENCH #2 | FAVOUR ODUSOLA | Mount Street Bridge, Dublin 2 | map

Wednesday 30 August 2023 – 1:00pm & 1:30pm
Thursday 31 August 2023 – 1:00pm & 1:30pm
Saturday 02 September 2023  2:00pm & 2:30pm

BENCH #1 | JESSIE THOMPSON | Spencer Dock, Dublin 1 | map

Wednesday 30 August 2023 – 1:00pm & 1:30pm
Thursday 31 August 2023 – 1:00pm & 1:30pm
Saturday 02 September 2023 – 12:00pm & 12:30pm (followed by a guided walking tour to arrive at Mount Street Bridge for the 2.00pm performance)

Duration approximately 20 minutes.


Culture Night 2023 

Photos by Rez Photo

Favour Odusola

Photos by Caoimhe Coburn Gray and Damien Woods

Jessie Thompson

Photos by Laura Rainsford and courtesy the artist



Commissions are by invitation. If you are an independent dance artist with three or more years of professional experience and would like to be considered for a future commission please get in touch by emailing Sarah at