Dance Artist Survival Toolkit

9th April 9-5pm & 10th April 9 – 4pm

Bailey Allen, NUI Galway

Book this performance- festival ticketholders only


In these quick-change times, how do you nurture and develop your creative practice? How do you evaluate and reflect on it? How do you keep abreast of new forms of knowledge? How do you plan for uncertainty? How can you stay inspired? How can you take care of yourself?

Dance Artist Survival Toolkit is a unique opportunity for dance artists to focus on their personal and professional development. Professional facilitators will guide you to understand the skills needed to support the planning of your creative work, to reflect on where you are creatively at present, and to think about the development of your practice and artistic/creative work.

Convened by Ríonach Ní Néill and Finola Cronin, facilitated by psychotherapist/musician Eoin Nash,with contributions from psychologist Dr Neil Kenny and Charlotte Vincent (Vincent Dance Company UK).

Places must be reserved at advance. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., with ‘Dance Artist Survival Toolkit reservation & ‘your name’ in the subject line.



Over 2 days, Dance Artist Survival Toolkit endeavours to give you access to a set of skills to support your independent thinking on how to develop and sustain your career into the future, how to think about preparing for practical challenges, how to reflect on and evaluate your creative practice, and how to work individually and communally for shared goals.

We will combine learning, reflection and action. We will work via a combination of skills workshops, guided individual & group exercises, and facilitated discussions, and we have allocated time for individual and group led initiatives.

This is time out for You  - to focus on yourself and your artistic practice, and from this to explore group connections and develop communal support.

It is a responsive plan, so there may well be minor changes in the running order, and schedule.

We have organised the two days thematically. On Saturday, The Healthy Mind will prioritise the sharing of new information and skills and approaches to thinking. And on Sunday, The Creative Mind, will seek to assimilate and apply this learning to the self in the first instance, and then to the group. By the end of Toolkit the aim is to have found pathways to formulate practical decision taking and discovered steps to reflect and/or instigate change, both individually and communally.


Saturday 9th April              9am-5.30pm

Registration @ 9am

Toolkit commences promptly at 9.30am

Opening session: Agreeing the framework and setting the safe environment – facilitated by Eoin Nash

Resilience and the dance artist – Dr Neil Kenny

This experiential workshop draws on the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to explore ways to support resilience, confidence and empowerment among professional dancers. Specifically, its focus is on approaches to problem solving and the management of stress and it is tailored to the competitive reality of the Irish professional dance environment. The workshop will balance acceptance and mindfulness-based skills with commitment strategies to focus on core values to guide decision-making.  From the perspective of ACT, stress and anxiety are an unavoidable feature of life and are inextricably linked to our past histories and training. In the case of professional dancers, this might point toward significant influences from dance training and previous professional experiences (Roche, 2011). Rather than trying to avoid unwanted feelings and challenges, ACT contends that learning to accept these aspects of our lives supports psychological flexibility, resilience and creativity. This workshop will focus on exploring core values and their role in supporting ongoing creative engagement, and aim to provide direction for future planning and problem solving in the context of the Irish professional dance environment.

Identifying & Exploring Power – Eoin Nash

Who decides what I do?

In this exercise-based session we will explore the idea of where power lies and who holds it. We will aim to support you to identify your own relationship with power, and support you to consider how to relate to power structures and those who control power. We will examine our core values, as explored in Neil Kenny’s workshop, in relation to power, and look at strategies for dealing with challenges to them. We will also explore avenues to help you work beyond what you might believe is your given authority, and consider how to use peer networks as sources of support in dealing with authority.

LUNCH- Food for the Soul from Brother Rabbits

International Perspective  - Charlotte Vincent

To stimulate our discussion in forging inventive career pathways, models of practice, and self and communal organisation, we draw on international perspectives and precedences in the form of Charlotte Vincent, choreographer and artistic director of Vincent Dance Theatre. Vincent is a choreographic mentor and gender equality activist, and she will share her experience with us.

Open Floor – facilitated by Eoin Nash

Family Feast 5.30pm

Saturday’s session concludes with a Family Feast - a banquet-style dinner in the Bailey Allen, which will give us the opportunity to continue our discussions informally, and to meet each other socially.

Continuing with our theme of nourishment and care, the vegetarian gluten-free dining is by Brother Rabbits, and is healthy and very tasty.

 You are welcome to bring tablecloths and table decorations, and a sweet to share.

The dinner is included in the €20 2-day catering price, subsidised by the Dance Artist in Residence.

Evening performance 8pm Black Box Theatre, Dyke Rd

Compagnie Nacera Belaza | Le Cri / Sur le Fil


Sunday 10th April              9am-5.30pm

Morning greeting at 9am

Toolkit commences promptly at 9.30am

Overview & preparatory session – Eoin Nash & Ríonach Ní Néill

Tools of the Trade: On Critical Reflection – Dr Finola Cronin

Clearly everyone reflects on their artistic and creative processes, but in this session we will aim to pay attention to the value of being conscious about how we reflect on our work in order to support understanding and articulation of our individual creative processes.

Some prompts: How would you gauge your reflection processes - for example – do you reflect in an ongoing and continuous way? Or, do you tend to reflect at specific stages of your creative process that you might try to set out in advance? Have you considered how your critical reflection might feed your imagination and knowledge in diverse ways at different stages of your creative and performance processes?

I look forward to working with you to unpack these ideas!

Artist’s Manifesto – Finola Cronin/Ríonach Ní Néill/Eoin Nash

Drawing together learning from the two days, we move from reflection on artistic practice to the business of articulating your practice in order to produce a blueprint for personal action.

Some questions:  What are you doing now? What and who is important to you?  What do you want to do next - and what do you need to achieve that? What is in your power to change - if necessary? And/or what do you need to help you to change to achieve your aims?

We will use a number of different strategies for independent work in this session, and you are invited to share from or hold onto your manifesto.

LUNCH- Food for the Soul from Brother Rabbits

Communal Strategies

From the perspective of the group as a resource, this facilitated session will aim to build on ideas or topics that might have evolved from all the previous Toolkit sessions but they will be explored here by focusing on identifying common ground and goals, with the objective to chart short and longer-terms actions to achieve these.

Open Floor

This session is to facilitate discussion of general and broad themes of current issues and questions of the Irish professional dance sector. The purpose is to gather, reflect on, and propose as necessary, strategies for common action.

Conclusion & Future Steps

Special Toolkit performance, The Cube, NUI Galway

Ella Clarke | 42

Don’t forget, the weekend begins on Friday night with 2 brand new performances at the Black Box

Fri 8th April- Double-bill Breandán de Gallaí/Ériú | Single...Jig?  & Onna Doherty | HOPE HUNT



10th April (post-Toolkit)  – 12th April (5.30pm)

Audition for Compagnie Nacera Belaza / Galway Dance Days co-production, taking place in Galway/Algiers/Paris in 2016-2017

Please contact Ríonach Ní Néill directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 0874121775


About the Toolkit team

Ríonach Ní Néill

Ríonach Ní Néill, is a dance artist and curator.  As Galway Dance Artist in Residence since 2010, she has developed her residency to host and commission dance artists, initiate cross-arts collaborations and provide multi-disciplinary platforms for the public, academics and artists to engage with dance. She has curated the Corp_Real | Galway Dance Days Festival since 2012. In 2015 Ríonach became dance curator at Firkin Crane, Cork, responsible for artistic programming and development. As a performer she danced for many Irish choreographers including Finola Cronin, Fearghus Ó Conchúir, and Rex Levitates (now Liz Roche Dance), and was a long-time member of Tanztheater Bremen, under the artistic direction of Urs Dietrich. She founded Ciotóg in 2006, for which she has choreographed 11 works, which have been performed worldwide, winning international awards. Ríonach holds a PhD in Urban Geography from UCD, lectures in dance at the Bundesakademie für Kulturelle Bildung in Germany, and has also taught at DIT Architecture and the University of Sweden, Malmo, Landscape Architecture MA.


Finola Cronin

Dr. Finola Cronin is Head of Drama Studies in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin. She trained in dance in Dublin and London, and danced with Company Vivienne Newport (Frankfurt), Tanztheater Wuppertal (Pina Bausch), and most recently with Raimund Hoghe (Germany/France).  She was Dance Specialist at the Arts Council of Ireland from 2003-2007. Her current choreographic project draws on Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chambers and Other Stories.  She serves on the boards of Siamsa Tíre - The National Folk Theatre, Dublin Dance Festival (as Vice-Chair), and she co-curates Corp_Real | Galway Dance Days with Dr. Ríonach Ní Néill. Her research area is choreography, and dance and performance studies. She is currently re-working her PhD dissertation Dance Theatre in Ireland: The Performance of Place and Agency towards publication. Forthcoming publications include the ebook (with Eamonn Jordan) The Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance Studies Reader (Carysfort Press), and contribution to The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance edited by Eric Weiz and Eamonn Jordan (Palgrave and Macmillan).


Eoin Nash

Eoin is Manager of Arts and Creative Therapies at Cope Foundation, a Cork-based service supporting people with Intellectual Disabilities & Autism and their families. He is a professionally qualified musician, music therapist and Integrative Psychotherapist, who also runs an arts therapy private practice. Eoin is the Founding Director of the Irish Performing Arts Festival, an international festival celebrating inclusive arts. He works on European projects through Erasmus + Programmes and Creative Europe and has been appointed Chairperson of the European Association of Service Providers interest group on Arts. Eoin guest lectures with University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology and University of Limerick. 



Neil Kenny

Dr. Neil Kenny has an honours B.A. from UCD and a PhD in Psychology from NUI, Maynooth. In addition, he has received training across a range of approaches in psychotherapy and the therapeutic use of Mindfulness. Dr. Kenny has many years’ experience in providing psychological services for children, young people and families impacted by complex needs. He has been a lecturer and researcher in the department of Education and Professional Studies at the University of Limerick for the last four years. Neil was a primary researcher, alongside Lisa McLoughlin, on the recent “Moved to Dance” project, funded by the Arts council dance bursary award, exploring the relationship of identity and movement in dancers.

Charlotte Vincent

 ‘One of the most important feminist artists working in Britain today’ (The Observer 2015), Charlotte formed Vincent Dance Theatre (VDT) in 1994 ( and has directed and designed all the company’s work to date. VDT creates interdisciplinary performance work, with associated social engagement and professional development programmes, that challenges conventional values in dance and gender politics.

Charlotte is committed to raising awareness of gender inequality and to raising the profile of female-led arts practice in the UK, with her distinctive voice acting as a catalyst for critical debate and social change. She also works as a director for smaller scale works, most recently directing Two Destination Language’s Near Gone (Total Theatre Award for Innovation, Experimentation 2014, still touring) and Kiera Martin’s Here Comes Trouble (touring 2015/16). She regularly mentors emerging and mid-career choreographers and is one of five established female makers currently delivering The Bench ( Charlotte collaborates with Claire MacDonald to host The Table (, and with anarchic performer Liz Aggiss as performance duo V&A Artefacts ( In 2012 Charlotte conceptualised and curated the inaugural Juncture festival of experimental, female led performance and practice at Yorkshire Dance in Leeds (


We have endeavoured to keep the costs of the weekend extremely low.

Participation in the Toolkit is free of charge to Corp_Real | Galway Dance Days Festival Ticket holders, which are being offered for €35 to independent dance artists, and are available directly at  To reserve your Toolkit place, please email galwaydancedays[at] when you have booked your ticket.

The ticket gives you access to

Fri 8th April- Double-bill Breandán de Gallaí/Ériú | SINGLE...JIG? & Oona Doherty | HOPE HUNT

Sat 9th April – Compagnie Nacera Belaza | LE CRI & SUR LE FIL

Sun 10th April – Ella Clarke | 42

Sat 9th - Sun 10th April – Dance Artist Survival Toolkit


We have pre-booked shared accommodation (bunk & breakfast buffet) within walking distance of NUI Galway and Black Box. It is available for €18/night, (€16 from Monday onwards) and can be reserved directly through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional bunk accommodation is available for those booking for the Nacera Belaza audition.

You will need to bring your own sheet.


We are having lovely, nourishing vegetarian gluten-free food prepared freshly for us by Brother Rabbits, including 2 proper lunches and dinner. We are asking Toolkit participants to contribute €15 towards the costs.

Please feel free to bring a cloth tablecloth, table decorations and a sweet to share.

Please bring your own mug for teas/coffees, as we are trying to cut down on unnecessary waste.

Our sponsors

Contact Ciotóg

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

087 4121775

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