LED BY PHILIPPA DONNELLAN | NATIONAL PROJECT | SUMMER 2020 

An invitation to create in dance, writing and film for people aged 50+

 

Somewhere buried in a box in the attic, or at the back of a wardrobe, are old love letters. They’re notes from an old flame and cards from those you hold most dear. Battered and torn around the edges, they’re romantic, whimsical, funny, sexy and bittersweet.

They’re memories you treasure. You never could part with them.

Then again, maybe there are no letters. The box is empty. You threw them out as romantic tosh only fit for the bin. You lost them in the move. You never received a reply.

And what about that letter you should write, the things left unsaid that you always wished to say, but never quite summoned up the courage to put on paper or heaven forbid, to send.

Would you like to? Isn’t it time?

Drawing inspiration from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s tale Love in the Time of Cholera about two lovers who wrote to each other for many years, and from love letters either famously public or personally private, we invite you to come together online to dance and share, to create choreography, to write a love letter – and to develop a series of short responses as films, sound recordings and writings.

LOVE LETTERS is produced in association with Age & Opportunity / Bealtaine Festival

Join us and take part | ALL EVENTS ARE FREE!

REGISTRATION REQUIRED
After you register, you will be sent a confirmation email with a link to click to join in each zoom session. Then you can pick and choose from the following sessions! JOIN ANYTIME!

WEEKLY DANCE CLASSES via ZOOM

Practise easy dance sequences, create choreography
DAY        WEDNESDAYS
DATES    15, 22, 29 July
DAY        5, 12, 19, 26 August
DAY        2 September
TIME      2.00pm – 3.30pm

COFFEE MORNINGS via ZOOM

Bring a cup of coffee and chat about love and other things…
DAY        TUESDAYS
DATES    14, 28 July + 11, 25 August
TIME      11.00am – 12.00 midday

SEND LOVE LETTERS

Send a letter to someone you love, whoever they are or wherever they may be – anytime!

CREATING LOVE LETTER FILMS & WRITINGS | Intensive project via ZOOM | 18 AUGUST-11 SEPTEMBER

– Create and perform your own choreography inspired by a love letter of your choice
– Write and record new text: love letters, poems, notes
– Using your mobile phone or other device, record your choreography in a selected ‘home’ location
In this project, participants will work intensively with Philippa and film editor Cathy Coughlan to create short films, audio recordings and writings – these will be published online and will premiere at the film screening & celebration in October 2020.

Creative Sessions

MONDAYS         24, 31 August | 11.00am – 12.30pm
TUESDAYS        18, 25 August, 1 September | 2.00pm – 3.30pm
THURSDAYS     27 August, 3 September | 11.00am – 12.30pm
FILMING by participants will take place anytime between 4-11 September

PROJECT FEE

This project is free – as places are limited and attendance at all sessions is important, a €25 registration deposit is required to secure your place.  This will be refunded on your completion of the project. Contact us for additional fee and payment options.

SOLD OUT! CONTACT CAOIMHE AT BROADREACH@COISCEIM.COM FOR WAITING LIST OPTIONS.

 

FILM SCREENING & CELEBRATION (Live or online)

Come and join us in a celebratory public screening for all to view and love!
DAY        SATURDAY
DATE     TBC
TIME      TBC

TO TAKE PART YOU WILL NEED:

– Laptop, computer, tablet or phone with internet access for Zoom
– Personal email address
– Handheld device with option to record video and audio such as a mobile phone, video camera
– A safe space to dance at home: a clear floor area of about 8 paces square – free of movable furniture and all other hard objects
– The best floor surfaces are carpet, lino or wood (Dancing on ceramic kitchen tiles or concrete is to be avoided)
– We will be on hand at set times to help advise with technical assistance for ZOOM sessions and for filming

 

WEEKLY BLOG

EACH WEEK WE’LL POST MESSAGES FROM PHILIPPA AND PARTICIPANTS

IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUBMIT A MESSAGE, PLEASE SEND IT TO CAOIMHE AT BROADREACH@COISCEIM.COM
.

WEEK 5

FROM PHILIPPA – Alongside regular attendees, it was nice that a few newcomers joined us today from Dublin and further afield in County Laois. Thoughts, questions and ideas were flowing around the upcoming LOVE LETTERS creative project, starting next week Tuesday 18 August! We talked about making short dance films, and about writing our own love letter to life  – about the people and places, and the special moments and memories in life that we love. Someone mentioned that they were inspired by the performance series Dear Ireland produced by the Abbey Theatre, and how powerful some of the pieces were. Conversation followed about ways to incorporate music, text or poetry, and how we might use the letters to help conjure up new choreography. We’ll also be looking at different places in and around our own homes as locations…and to help us grapple with the digital technology, dance artist/filmmaker Cathy Coughlan will be on board to explain the best ways to film, and to edit all the material. It’s so exciting talking about what we might create together; I’m looking forward to the next step of LOVE LETTERS! A final chat about love and the language of flowers wound up our third, very social coffee morning. Here’s a few quotes and pics to enjoy. Thanks everyone, see you soon!
 
Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow. – John Lennon

Minds are like flowers; they open only when the time is right.
 – Stephen Richards

A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose. All flowers are beautiful in their own way, and that’s like women too.
 – Miranda Kerr 

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds round my neck 
– Emma Goldman

Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same
. – Helen Keller  
 

A LOVE LETTER TO LIFE
Dear Life
What do I love about you?  The obvious things of course – loving family, dear friends and the good fortune of a life free from famine, war, displacement, homelessness.
But what are those little moments you offer that fill me with deep contentment? 
The pleasure of reading a good novel.  Ironic I know, as it is an escape into someone else’s life.
Lounging on the sofa, shoes off, dog snuggled into my back (how does he breathe?), watching a disaster movie on TV, safe in the knowledge that in Ireland I will never be visited by mega earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or devastating hurricanes.  Pestilence?  Well in these Covid times that is another question.
Dancing to ABBA.  And of course, “thank you for the music…..”!
Sliding into a bed with freshly laundered sheets.
Trousers with elasticated waists.
The smell of fresh coffee after a long walk.
I love the walk itself – along a sandy shore with the waves endlessly swishing and pulling at my feet, or along a wooded pathway going from patches of deep cool shade into warm sunlight.  A metaphor for life itself.

WEEK 4

Our Week 2 mystery poet has delivered again – scroll down to Week 2 to see the story in verse unfold further!
Meanwhile, another anonymous love letter has been received – read below…

IN MEMORIAM 90315 (1911-1991) 

We were living in a country with earth red and white as flesh, where shadows thrown by leaves are sharp as blades

You shared it with me: we drove North, and also South amongst places with names meaning “Sound of the wind in the treesand “The stamp of the elephant”, crossing rivers in the Land Rover on floating rafts and rickety wooden bridges. 

My small self stood near the edge of the lagoon, quite still, in the newness of wonder at a flushing sunset, the air of which I felt my very skin to be drinking in, while you, unbeknownst, watched over me from close by among the towering, rustling grasses. Later, in darkness, and wrapped in my special blanket, you lifted me up out of sleep to see the fireflies emerging as though bom among the sparks from the camp fire

While my small feet still fitted on top of yours, we clasped hands and danced together, you stepping out for both of us

You filtered the adult world for me. Nevertheless, you responded carefully to the questions of a puzzled 7 year-old, with meanings which at the time were astounding to her : meanings of the words “suicide”, drug addict, fractured skull

Later, we clasped hands for the dipping and twirling waltzes that you allowed my exuberant, teenage self steal from you and my Mother. My ideal ballroom partner, holding me just right, with hands that could soothe large animals and charm smaller ones. Hands that had also been trained how to kill

Much later when we, unknowingly, said goodbye for the last time, I wrapped my arms right around you, now become frail and delicate as a flamingo

Between us, there will be no more clasping of hands. There is none to be had in the placing of mine on the red earth over you in the hope of some kind of synaptic leap across infinity. Yet, you are as close as clasping hand to hand with myself. It is me. And, it is you

Stay close to me my dear Father

WEEK 3

FROM PHILIPPA – Lots of chat about kissing today! And about the power of touch and the human need to connect, physically, socially and emotionally. It was moving to hear a few stories about personal love letters; how valuable they are as a memento of past relationships from people who are no longer here, yet who are still treasured. As the coffee brewed, we scrolled through some iconic paintings (see below) of ‘the kiss’ – Klimt (fabulous), Magritte (spooky and a bit weird), Rodin (stunning and somehow so real), and Picasso (colourfulwhich woman is he kissing  – there were a few!). We looked at some war time pics, and wondered whether a woman being kissed by the sailor was coerced ‘she wouldn’t let that happen now!’….hmm…perhaps. Someone asked if anyone remembered Aston Quay, Dublin on a late Friday night and all the people kissing each other goodnight – was that when the condom trains started? Anyone out there have any pics of that time and place? We also looked at more recent photos that were inspired by last week’s dance session when we explored ideas about touch and using gesture to create choreography for the camera.  There was some topical and poignant imagery of people connecting either side of a window, of reaching out and touching hand to hand with glass between them. We shared plenty of comments on how something as simple as physical touch, for so long taken for granted, is now so distant… See you soon for more dancing and love stories via Zoom!

Thanks to Maura for letting us know about this film about Klimt’s paintings during WWII: Woman in Gold (2015)

Another classic painting, which Deirdre mentioned that I had missed off the list: The Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton

Thanks to Katharin for sending in this Indian love painting: A Prince and his Mistress in an Embrace by Mughal 

And this one too: The Love Letter by Johannes Vermeer

FROM BEATRICE 
My love letter is to life 
Life has given me a lot of very good and not so good moments 
It has given me knowledge and experience
And both joyous and sad times
I have had time to enjoy the warm and cold weather, to feel the rain and the sun, to see the birds and the flowers
And the sea, the forests and the mountains
Life has given me the joy of love, love to and from my children, grandchildren and family
It has given me very good friends – and dancing!
Those are my most important treasures
They are deep in my heart and no one can ever take them away from me
 

WEEK 2

The first anonymous love letter has been received – clearly there’s a mystery poet among us! 

Tis’ a letter I must write, but where do I begin?
Thoughts and memories come flooding in
You came to the front door, of my parents house
We’d never met before
Our mutual friends thought we would match
I think we thought each other quite a catch
And so I think of you my love, just sometimes
Not very often
But they were special times my love

And will never be forgotten 

I wore a dress of stripy pink, I think
It was a fabric destined for a curtain
And as clothes were rationed due to the war
I’d rather wear a dress I’d made myself
Not something boring off the shelf
 
You were a fabulous dancer
We took to the floor
You admired my dress
We danced some more
 
These thoughts my love remind me of you
Now you’re gone too
And the only thing I’d miss
Is that last and final kiss

FROM NORA – This article is interesting. The poem/letter that begins “Darling Marie- Louise , you are more to me than the scarlet poppies…” is particularly beautiful: Click here to read

WEEK 1 

FROM PHILIPPA – LOVE LETTERS began today, 14 July, with a welcome coffee morning.. great to see some familiar faces as well as newcomers. After brief intro’s, we read a few love letters from famous, historical figures. Plenty of flowery and dramatic language….and a few questionable relationships! The letters that really seemed to connect, were those that spoke simply and directly to the other person’s heart – or am I just being romantic! This led to us chatting about receiving personal letters in the post (a definite preference rather than email). ‘Even if you knew the news was old by the time you received the letter, it was still great to get it in the post’. One person said ‘it’s good to even choose the type of paper you’re writing on, the texture is important – and you can send scents/smells!‘, while someone else mentioned that receiving a letter, ‘it’s a more personal connection, you really feel you’re held in their mind and body just for that moment, by the person writing to you’. There was a sense that we’re missing the connection to others (the touch, sound, breath etc). Maybe this project LOVE LETTERS can connect us if we want…anyone sent a letter to one they love during lockdown?
Next coffee morning – we’ll take a look at a few iconic paintings and photography on the ART of love…as well as coffee and chat of course! All welcome….

FROM DEIRDRE – It was great to see everyone on Zoom yesterday, I was wishing I had a bigger screen! While we were discussing the letters, I asked if ‘The Great Gatsby’ was based on F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda’s own lives. I realized afterwards that I was thinking of ‘Tender is the Night.’ Although there are similarities between Fitzgerald and Jay Gatsby, the plot of ‘Tender is the Night’ almost mirrors the events of Fitzgerald and Zelda’s lives, as characters are in and out of mental care, and the male character starts his descent into alcoholism. Fitzgerald had a very sad life, I think.

FROM BRIDGET – I checked out the letters between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. What a tumultuous relationship. There are many letters online which are interesting to check out. She had a very difficult time health wise. What a strong determined woman!