“The programme of Irish work at Dance Base is particularly strong this year. SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER could be icky and sentimental but the combination of David Bolger, director of one of my favorite Irish companies, and his 77-year-old mother Madge (in her stage debut) is so lovely and genuine, it brought tears to my eyes.” Chitra Ramaswamy, Scotland on Sunday
“Swimming With My Mother very gently disarms you, warms you with its affectionate humour and beguiles you with the mood of shared reverie and remembering that laps around the family partnership of David Bolger and his mother Madge. If this was simply a piece about their relationship – she taught him to swim, – it would still be a pleasure to witness their loving kinship, and the sheer panache of 77-year-old Madge as she sashays elegantly into the dance. But this production by Dublin’s Coisceim Dance Theatre, where David Bolger is artistic director, evokes more than (an admittedly entertaining) family history: it conjures up a sense of childhood wonderment at the physical thrill of a midnight sea, of feeling scared yet safe because a reassuring presence – in Bolger’s case, his mother. The voice-overs, music and monochrome back projections are a nicely judged framework for the movement – but what really shines out is a deeply affecting bond of love, revealed in a tenderly whimsical, unmawkish way.” Mary Brennan, The Herald
“…This already highly successful and award winning show is, as the Nat King Cole song in the show says, Unforgettable.” Irene Brown, The Edinburgh Guide
“…The most popular works are Irish imports. Sensitive without resorting to sentimentality and staged with ingenious simplicity, David Bolger’s SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER is a lovely depiction of a parent-child bond that was forged in the water. Bolger is a beautiful fluid mover and his septuagenarian mum, Madge, a wonderful watchful, anchoring presence.” Donald Hutera, The Times
“SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER is a gorgeous duet that induces both tears and laughter…….A swimming teacher her whole life, Madge also loves dancing and Bolger’s choreography perfectly brings the two together.” Kelly Apter, The Scotsman
“The dynamics of the mother-son relationship are not just an end in themselves but open up a meditation on what it means to pass on a skill you love, or a joy in movement. A gentle, joyful, intergenerational gem.” Lizzie Steward, The Shimmy Skinny
“The companionship of mother and son seeped onto the stage in David Bolger’s wonderfully gentle, perfectly formed duet, Swimming With My Mother at Project Cube. The tone was nostalgic but not sentimental and created a perfectly managed exchange of roles. Is she teaching the choreographer to swim or is he teaching his mother to dance? The bonding and the different physical capacities were adroitly harnessed and it was good to see Bolger in performance again, always engaging, never too self-aware. Madge Bolger was consummately at ease, as the duo tripped through some clever intimations of synchronized swimming strokes. These moves were then counter-pointed by some waltz and cha-cha moves, evoking the swaying ballroom dances of old. A sequence of distressed moves, of arching back, grappling arms and flailing limbs, as nightmares raged and then were calmed, also bore the mark of interdependence. In this light and humane dance work you could almost smell the sea and feel the grainy sand between your toes as mother and son sat companionably on the bare bench, swinging legs.”Seona Mac Réamoinn, Irish Theatre Magazine
Brendan Daly | “Maternal stroke of dance at the Belltable” | Clare Champion.
Róisín Ingle | “Upfront – Madge Bolger | The Irish Times Magazine.
Lavender Magazine review: “Sublime Swimming Show Touches On The Ethereal and Sacred”
Star Tribune review: “a delightful meditation on a relationship that thrives in and out of the water.”
Star Tribune interview with David and Madge.
David’s interview with Duncan Hall, The Argus.
Karen Dugdale’s review for The Argus.
FROM DAVID BOLGER’S DIARY during the creation of SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER, 2010.
FIELD TRIP TO SANDYMOUNT STRAND: On Sunday last, I took the opportunity of the lovely weather to go back to a special place for me, which as a child was my expansive front garden. Sandymount Strand. In SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER I thought it important to go right back to the heart of my earliest water memories. I want to be able to create a duet between my mother, Madge and myself, which would be informed by shared stories of earlier memories. I want to explore the idea of memory and what informs the dances we dance. Using our shared swimming-life as a metaphor of life itself, our relationship and bonds. How would we react in this space, The Strand, which we have not been on together for many years? I found it liberating. Getting out of the studio and into the huge open space, unlocking an inner-emotion. I became the child again. Running and dancing on the beach. I could see Madge looking off into the distance, towards Howth. What was she thinking about? Past swims in the sea at the ‘Shelly banks’? Was she remembering the many happy years of watching the sea, as it curled around Dublin Bay, twice a day, and covering the entire stretch of sand we were now both standing on? This idea, of the sea covering and uncovering vast areas of the beach seemed to ring home a truth to me, and possibly a way forward with the dance. We talk together for a little and every now and then, we would just both fall silent. Staring off out over the bay. We walked on and passed the Martello tower. Then on again to the old public sea baths to take some photographs. The baths had been decommissioned a long time ago. I remember hearing stories of the wooden walkway that ran from the roadside to the entrance. How during the summer months people would travel from miles around to swim in the chilly water, which was trapped into the baths by a very simple method. They would open the gates of the baths during high tide and trap the water within. Then over time, the water was treated. The seawater would warm by a few degrees in the sun. (Of course the weather was always better then! When summer meant sunshine and warm breezes). The old swimming pool walls now are crumbling and being eaten away slowly by the force of the tides. The baths have become a playground for graffiti artist and the remains of late night parties were evident. There were several people gathering cockles in the pools of water, which the baths still traps. A rich mixture of urban art and nature taking over. What surprised me the most was the changes of the sand banks. How they have shifted from how I remember them. As a child, I remember playing a game we had made up called ‘Fast Corner’s’. Where we would walk out to one of the sand banks. Our feet would sink into the sand. We would run in ever decreasing circles as fast as we could, getting closer and closer to the ground. Without falling over. This was the aim, to stay upright the longest. We knew this place like the back of our hands. Time has changed it. But it still felt like our playground. I will be returning to the stand this week on my own. Trying to bring to light and find the dancing that this incredible space has choreographed for me. I would like SWIMMING WITH MY MOTHER, to evolve from these type of field trips. Piecing together the story, which feels natural and unforced. While being relevant to both Madge and myself.
-DAVID BOLGER APRIL 2010