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Rita Marcalo | May 2018

14th May 2018

performingborders is a ONE LAST DANCE – AN CHÉAD DAMHSA partner. The online platform will follow  Rita Marcalo’s journey from Guildford (UK) to Cloughjordan (Ireland) through the publication of Rita’s reflections during the unfolding of her journey, and two interviews with the artist – one at the beginning and one at the end of the project – by Alessandra Cianetti. More information will be available soon on


performingborders (Alessandra Cianetti): Rita, in your new upcoming project ONE LAST DANCE – AN CHÉAD DAMHSA your are going to dance your way out the UK where you have lived and worked as an artist for 24 years in order to relocate to Ireland. Can you tell us a bit more about the project and how it will unfold?

Rita Marcalo: ONE LAST DANCE – AN CHÉAD DAMHSA is a perambulating dance between Guildford (the first city I lived in when she arrived in the UK as an Erasmus student in 1994) and Cloughjordan (the rural Irish village that I am moving to post-Brexit).

As I dance my way through the UK I will meet (and stay with) other EU citizens, who will walk/dance part of the way with me. Each EU citizen will choreograph a section of One Last Dance, and choreographic sections will then be linked to one another via linear accumulation. During the walk each EU citizen will also offer their testimony of life in the UK: this testimony will be edited, and will form part of the audio for the work.

As I dance my way into the Republic of Ireland I will encounter dance/arts organisations, festivals and venues which have been part of my work in the UK over the past 24 years. At each of these encounters I will perform One Last Dance to the accumulative stage that it will be at.

@Lucy Barker

Image by Lucy Baker for the work co-created by refugees Yodite, Abdul, Johnoy, Addisu, and artist Rita Marcalo

performingborders (Alessandra):  Through your practice you have been working with your own moving body on both solo and collaborative pieces. Choreographic acts of border transgression – as per the definition of your project Dancing With Strangers: From Calais to England – that cross the boundaries between the individual and the collective and in some cases, engage with the lived experiences of international refugees. How does your ‘personal Brexit’ through ONE LAST DANCE – AN CHÉAD DAMHSA reflect on and respond to both your whole body of work and your status as an artist who is white, female, and an EU citizen?

Rita: On the one hand there is a connection between One Last Dance and my previous work in relation to Calais refugees: there is a similarity in terms of bringing non-artists into the work as co-creators, in terms of work which is created/performed in the public realm, and in terms of the way in which activism and awareness raising is the engine for the work. There is also, of course, a similarity in terms of the thematic: my previous Calais work dealt with the crossing of the border between Calais and Dover, and this new one deals with crossing the border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

The main difference is hinted in the strap line for the previous work: a choreographic act of border transgression. For my Calais co-creators their participation in the work was marked by this idea of transgression, for they did not hold the right to cross that border. Whereas in One Last Dance there is no transgression. Indeed, One Last Dance can be seen as the enactment of the privilege that being an EU citizen offers me: the privilege to simply move to another of the other 27 EU countries, instead of continuing to live in post-Brexit Britain.

@ Journeys Festival International (2)

Image by Journeys Festival International

performingborders (Alessandra): I look forward to our next interview that will be published after the end of ONE LAST DANCE – AN CHÉAD DAMHSA. I imagine many aspects of your present approach and expectations will change over the weeks, walks, encounters, and dances. However, I am curious to know what at this present moment are your anticipated expectations, doubts, fears and wishes for your ‘last dance’.

Rita Marcalo: I expect…

That the walk will be physically exhausting. 

That engaging with the testimony and fears of those EU citizens who, by choice or need, are staying in the UK will be emotionally exhausting.

That saying goodbye to the country which was my home for so many years will an emotional journey.

I fear…

That I might encounter some antagonism towards me throughout the walk.

That I won’t physically be able to do it.

I doubt…

That I won’t physically be able to do it.

I wish…

That the work will have contributed to an increased awareness around the Home Office’s hostile environment policy towards immigration in general, and more specifically to those EU citizens who will acquire settled status in the UK.

That my sadness around Brexit will have transformed into gratitude for the many beautiful years I have had in the country.

That by the end, the work will feel like my final love letter to the UK.

Instant Dissidence is a UK/Ireland-based company directed by me, Rita Marcalo. It is my way of bringing different artists together, in different combinations, to realise different ideas: through Instant Dissidence I invent ways of offering other people art experiences.My practice began in dance/choreography but eventually I became more interested in communicating concepts than in sticking to a particular art form. I began collaborating with others to create work in different media, and today I bring in people from different areas to solve creative problems. Instant Dissidence’s is also a socially-engaged practice where the company foregrounds the role that dance/choreography can play as a social engine: we are ‘artivists’ who believe in the power of connecting art and social consciousness.

Featured image credits: Rita Marcalo

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