When you open the doors at the Echo Echo Dance company’s temporary home at 13 Bishop Street, it’s crystal clear that this is a working dance studio. Although with its solid international reputation, you could forgive the company for being caught up in phonecalls and paperwork.
That’s certainly not the case in the small but vibrant space which is currently housing the Echo Echo staff and the many people who take part in a constant string of workshops and dance classes at the city centre hub.
Exciting times lie ahead for Echo Echo, the innovative dance company created by Steve Batts and the late Ursula Laeubli, which located itself in Derry in 1991. Since then the North West has become a focal point for contemporary dance and making that aspect of the arts more accessible to as wide an audience as possible,
Bigger challenges are just around the corner for the progressive company, who are eager to capitalise on Derry’s year as UK City of Culture.
Co-ordinator Sarah Bryden, who’s been with Echo Echo for a number of years, is leaving the company to take up a new post in Omagh. Friday was her last day. It’s a bittersweet move for Sarah, whose heart has been with the the company since she took up her post there.
Although no official announcement been made yet, Echo Echo are set to play a pivotal role in the city’s big year and will move to state-of-the-art premises in the city centre.
Sarah says, “The company are really looking forward to the City of Culture year and it will mean great opportunities and lots of exciting developments for dance in the city.
“Echo Echo are going to be working with fantastic individual dancers and getting a collective together from Europe, the Middle East and Russia.
“The idea is to work with that collective here in Derry and bring these dancers out onto the streets where they’ll perform. It’s going to be really, really different.”
While the team at Echo Echo are working full steam ahead to make the most of the City of Culture, they’re keen to maintain links with the local community who keep them busy all year round, as Sarah explains.
“It’s really important to us to keep our usual programme as well and stay true to the ethos of the company.
“We want to keep that warmth and connection we have with the public. That’s a big part of what we do and we’ll work at preserving that during what will be a busy year for us.”
Foremost in the thoughts of everyone at Echo Echo as they prepare to celebrate dance in their home town in 2013 will be founder Ursula Lauebli, who passed away in 2011.
“A lot of people who would have known and worked with Ursula will be here next year and I know she’ll be in everyone’s mind. She would have loved to have seen some of what will happen next year. I’m sure she’ll be keeping eye on all that we’re doing,” smiles Sarah.
Echo Echo continue to pack their dance studio at 13 Bishop Street with a full programme events for dance enthusiasts of all ages. This includes youth dance, kids classes and the ever-popular Body Wisdom classes for the over fifties.
Check out their full programme of events at www.echoechodance.com or telephone 02871 308883