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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


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


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



St. Ann's Warehouse


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.


About Michael Keegan-Dolan (Writer/Choreographer/Performer)

Michael Keegan-Dolan rose to acclaim as the artistic director of Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre (1997-2015), creating three Olivier Award-nominated productions: Giselle (2003), The Bull (2005), and The Rite of Spring (2009). In 2004, Giselle won an Irish Times Theatre Award and The Bull received a UK Critics Circle National Dance Award in 2008. Rian, created in 2011, won a Bessie Award (New York Dance and Performance Award) in 2013 for Best Production.

In 2012, Keegan-Dolan directed and choreographed a new production of Handel’s Julius Caesar at the London Coliseum, for English National Opera. In 2015 he created an original piece, The Big Noise, for the GoteborgOperans DansKompani working closely with celebrated Nordic Folk Musician, Ale Moller. As Guest Artistic Director of the National Youth Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells London for the 2015 – 2016 season, Keegan-Dolan created In-Nocentes. In March 2017, he devised a new work to Dvorak’s 8th Symphony for the Dance Company at the Gärtnerplatztheater, Munich.

He also has extensive experience teaching and has led workshops for different dance and theater companies in Ireland and around the world.

Keegan-Dolan was an associate artist at the Barbican Centre, London, and is now an associate at Sadler’s Wells London.


About Rachel Poirier (Choreographer/Performer/Co-Director)

Rachel Poirier has been Michael Keegan-Dolan’s closest collaborator, performing in—and contributing to the creation of—all of his works since 2004. She trained in France in the conservatoire of Rennes, l’École Nationale de la Rochelle, and furthered her training at the Rudra Béjart school before joining Rambert Dance Company. Poirier has also worked with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Rafael Bonachela, John Jasperse, and Christophe Garcia.


About Adam Silverman (Co-Director and Lighting Designer)

Adam Silverman works as a lighting designer in opera, theater, and dance. Productions with Michael Keegan-Dolan: Swan Lake/Loch an hEala, The Big Noise, The Rite of Spring / Petrushka, Rian, Helen and Hell, James Son of James, The Bull, Giselle, and the English National Opera productions of The Rite of Spring and Julius Caesar. Other recent productions include Enda Walsh and Donnacha Dennehy’s Second Violinist and The Last Hotel; Enda Walsh’s Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, Arlington, Ballyturk, and Misterman. Silverman has lit theater and opera productions on Broadway and the West End, and at The Abbey Theatre, The Gate Theatre, Royal National Theatre, Opera Ireland, Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera, and English National Opera, among others.


About Teaċ Daṁsa

Teaċ Daṁsa was established in 2016 when the Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre moved from the Irish midlands to the West Kerry Gaeltacht on the Southwest coast of Ireland. Teaċ Daṁsa makes dance and theater work informed by a sense of place and nurtures a deeper more meaningful connection with the traditions, language and music of Ireland. Teaċ Daṁsa creates a place where artists can work together to make dance and theater work that transforms both artist and audience.

While rooted in Ireland the company draws upon an international ensemble of performers, artists and collaborators and has created work that has toured and resonated internationally.

Teaċ Daṁsa was founded by Michael Keegan-Dolan (Micháel MacAodhagáin-Ó Dobhailen) in 2016.

Its first production, Swan Lake / Loch na hEala, continued a tradition of ground-breaking productions for which the company is reputed. It won the Irish Times Theatre Award 2017 for Best New Production and the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Production 2018. MÁM created in 2019, was the first show entirely conceived, rehearsed and produced in the West Kerry Gaeltacht and was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Production in 2020 and two UK Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2022.


Funding Credits

How to be a Dancer in 72,000 Easy Lessons is supported by Culture Ireland and the Irish Consul General in New York.

St. Ann’s Warehouse is supported by lead season sponsor Bloomberg Philanthropies, Howard Gilman Foundation, American Express, The JKW Foundation, MacMillan Family Foundation, Jerome L. Greene Foundation Fund in The New York Community Trust, Donald A. Pels Charitable Trust, The Shubert Foundation, Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Tow Foundation, Chad & Nancy Dickerson, The SHS Foundation, Andrew Martin-Weber, Culture Ireland, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, The Lupin Foundation, The Zankel Scala Family Foundation, Con Edison, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council, New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


About St. Ann’s Warehouse

St. Ann’s Warehouse, located at 45 Water Street in the heart of Brooklyn Bridge Park, plays a vital role on the global cultural landscape as an American artistic home for international companies of distinction, American avant-garde masters and talented emerging artists ready to work on a grand scale. St. Ann’s signature flexible, open space allows artists to stretch, both literally and imaginatively, enabling them to approach work with unfettered creativity, knowing that the theater can be adapted in multiple configurations to suit their needs.

The Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Theater at St. Ann’s Warehouse offers artists vast raw space  within the original walls of a 1860’s Tobacco Warehouse. The building complex also includes a Studio for smaller-scale events and community uses and The Max Family Garden, designed by landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and open to Brooklyn Bridge Park visitors during Park hours.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Ann’s reconfigured its facade and rooftop balconies for public art presentations of music and visual art, bringing artists back to work and offering its arches, walls and lightboxes to BIPOC artists such as Supremacy Project, committed to ending violence through art. The organization’s highly successful 2022-23 season included Little Amal Walks NYC, a citywide festival of welcome on behalf of refugee children worldwide, co-produced with The Walk Productions; the return of the immensely acclaimed play about refugees, The Jungle, a Good Chance Theatre co-production with London’s National Theatre and The Young Vic; Gina Moxley’s punk-propelled feminist satire The Patient Gloria; Wuthering Heights, from longtime St. Warehouse artist Emma Rice and her company Wise Children; and Monsoon Wedding, the Musical, Mira Nair’s spectacular adaptation of her landmark film.


Photo by Rich Gilligan

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