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St. Ann's Warehouse presents Michael Keegan-Dolan's "How to Be a Dancer," featuring Rachel Poirier

St. Ann's Warehouse presents Michael Keegan-Dolan's "How to Be a Dancer," featuring Rachel Poirier


St. Ann's Warehouse X Michael Keegan-Dolan


St. Ann's Warehouse
45 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201


Saturday, October 21, 2023 - 7:30pm weekly through November 4, 2023
Sunday, October 22, 2023 - 8:00pm weekly through November 5, 2023



St. Ann's Warehouse X Michael Keegan-Dolan


Ireland’s Keegan-Dolan Returns to the Stage for the First Time in 20 Years, Joined by Longtime Collaborator Rachel Poirier, Charting a Perpetual Outsider’s Coming-of-Age Quest to Transcend the Boundaries that Box in Artistry and the Human Spirit

How to Be a Dancer, a Hit at Both the 2023 Galway International Arts Festival and the 2022 Dublin Theatre Festival, Is Choreographed and Performed by Keegan-Dolan and Poirier, Directed by Poirier and Adam Silverman, and Produced by a Teaċ Daṁsa and Gate Theatre, Dublin


St. Ann’s Warehouse, continuing a rich history of introducing major Irish productions to American audiences, presents the North American premiere of Michael Keegan-Dolan’s How to Be a Dancer in Seventy-two Thousand Easy Lessons, a Teaċ Daṁsa / Gate Theatre, Dublin production, October 21 - November 5. Choreographed and performed by Keegan-Dolan and “dazzling dancer” (The Guardian) Rachel Poirier, his closest collaborator, and directed by Poirier and Adam Silverman, How to Be a Dancer weaves a poignant, often hilarious story about a life in dance from memory’s pas de deux of fiction and reality. The production marks the first time in 20 years that Keegan-Dolan has performed in one of his works, and the first time St. Ann’s Warehouse has presented a work of dance-theater.

Following a sprawling and immensely successful 2022-23 season of international work, St. Ann’s Warehouse presents this intimate and  “gorgeous burst of creative freedom” (The Guardian, in a four-star review) from an artist whose “powerful and profound productions always bring you somewhere unexpected” (The Irish Times). The Irish Times, in its four-star review, described How to Be a Dancer as “bewitching”; and The Arts Review heralded it as “a treasure trove of large and little joys.”

Susan Feldman, Founding Artistic Director of St. Ann’s Warehouse, said, “Both playful and contemplative, How to Be a Dancer in Seventy-two Thousand Easy Lessons was a standout for me when I saw it this summer—a fitting first production of dance-theater for St. Ann’s Warehouse. It’s a powerful return to the stage for Michael after 20 years, as he tells the story of how he became a dancer. The mood rails with sly humor, rage, and moments of pure, breathtaking joy.”

In How to Be a Dancer, Keegan-Dolan and his collaborators marshal various tools of live theater and dance—storytelling, movement, music ranging from The Talking Heads and Men Without Hats to Jacques Brel and Stravinsky—to carry audiences through the fragmentary recollections of a man who wanted a life in dance since childhood but struggled for decades to find his place. The creative team with which Keegan-Dolan brings his story to theatrical life includes Rachel Poirier (Co-Choreographer, Co-Director, and Performer),  Adam Silverman (Director and Lighting Designer), Hyemi Shin (Set and Costume Designer), Sandra Ní Mhathúna (Sound Designer), Mikee Lonergan (Production Manager), and Iain Synnott (Stage Manager).

Taking the stage as the “Dance Man” and the “Dancer,” Keegan-Dolan and Poirier narrate—and theatricalize—his unconventional rise to prominence. They perform tableaux of awkward ballet school days against the backdrop of 1980's hunger strikes and IRA bombings; personal experiences of violence at the hands of a priest; anti-Irish prejudice, and hard-won breakthroughs.

In How to Be a Dancer, The Dance Man—pigeon-toed, emboldened by dancing instead of sports, out of sync with his peers—comes of age amidst the uncertainty and violent backdrop of the war in the North. He seeks solace through an education in ballet as he learns his body’s idiosyncrasies—and ultimately finds an artistic home in choreography. This intimate performance sees creative and life partners Keegan-Dolan and Poirier performing alone onstage together, a distillation of their symbiotic strengths and identities as artists.

As the performance depicts, Keegan-Dolan turned to choreography after realizing he was “bad” at dancing. He told The Irish Times, “I had a gift as a choreographer and the decision was made easier because I was so bad at dancing. Actually that was a blessing…Rachel has a gift that I do not have. And so I rely on her gift, I lean into her gift…When you work the way we’re working on the subject matters we’re working on, with people you know so well, you can go very deep. With me and Rachel and Adam, for example, we can go very far together.”

Michael Keegan-Dolan is one of Ireland’s most internationally celebrated choreographers. He earned acclaim with three Olivier Award-nominated works produced by Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, the company he founded in 1997 and led until 2015: Giselle (2003), The Bull (2005), and The Rite of Spring (2009). Rian, created in 2011, won a Bessie Award for Best Production upon its U.S. premiere in Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. Teaċ Daṁsa, which Keegan-Dolan established in 2016, garnered critical praise for its first production, Swan Lake / Loch na hEala, which opened BAM’s Next Wave Festival in 2019. Following the U.S. premiere of How to Be a Dancer at St. Ann’s Warehouse, his ensemble piece MÁM will also have its U.S. premiere, November 17 at Fairfield University’s Quick Center for the Performing Arts.


Tickets and Additional Information

Performances of How to Be a Dancer in Seventy-two Thousand Easy Lessons take place October 21 - November 5 at St. Ann’s Warehouse (45 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201). The production officially opens on Wednesday, October 25, at 7:30pm.

Tickets, starting at $45, go on sale to St. Ann’s Warehouse Members on Wednesday, September 13, and to the general public on Thursday, September 21. They can be purchased at stannswarehouse.org or 718.254.8779.



Photo by Rich Gilligan


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