Irish dance company CoisCéim brings Knots to Edison Theatre Feb. 29 and March 1

Evening-length concert based on the writings of couples' therapist R.D. Laing

As singles, we spend much of our lives looking for the perfect partner with whom to “tie the knot.” Once we’ve found them, we spend the rest of our lives looking to repair the frayed ends.

Irish dance company CoisCéim brings *Knots,* an evening-length concert exploring the twists and turns of intimate relationships, to Edison Theatre Feb. 29 and March 1.

Such is the thesis behind Knots, an evening-length concert by CoisCéim, one of Ireland’s leading contemporary dance companies. Directed by guest choreographer Liam Steel, the acclaimed show — voted best production at the 2005 Dublin Fringe Festival — will make its St. Louis debut as part of the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series at Washington University.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 29 and March 1. Tickets are $30; $25 seniors and Washington University faculty and staff; and $18 for students and children. Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call (314) 935-6543 or email

Knots is based on the writings of R.D. Laing, a psychoanalyst whose 1970 book of the same title, inspired by his work in couples’ therapy, examines the ways in which our minds frequently interfere with our personal relationships.

“Some years ago I was dealing with the painful breakdown of a personal relationship,” Steel explains. “I had been with my partner for five years and came home one day to find a ‘Dear John’ note on our table saying that they had gone. They had left me for someone else. Naturally I was hurt, angry, upset, and bitter. But ultimately I just wanted to know WHY?”

CoisCéim in *Knots*

Laing’s work, which Steel discovered shortly thereafter, “led me to a level of self-examination that showed me that I had reached an impasse — a knot that had to be untangled in order for me to move on and be able to form a successful relationship in the future.”

A few years later, Steel was approached by David Bolger, co-founder and artistic director of CoisCéim, about creating a piece.

Knots seemed to lend itself perfectly to creative dissection,” Steele recalls. “It is written with a musical rhythm that shows it to be a perfect bed partner to dance. And yet it defies definition. Is it poetry, theatre, philosophy, psychology, or simply the confused ramblings of a controversial psychoanalyst?”

The resulting concert fuses text and movement into high-octane and sometimes brutal choreography representing a series of passionate physical and verbal confrontations. Performed by the six-person company, Knots attempts to unravel the dynamic twists, turns and convolutions of life with another person.

“This exhilarating devised production … is the most accomplished to date in CoisCéim’s ongoing project to merge the aesthetics and skills of contemporary dance and theatre,” praises The Guardian newspaper. “The performers astound in their ability to perform complex choreography while acting with complete emotional commitment. Their vivacity undercuts what could otherwise have become a bleak vision of the possibility of happy union.”

Steel, in addition to creating Knots, serves as artistic director for the company Stan Won’t Dance, which recently completed a North American tour for its debut piece, Sinner. He previously spent 10 years as a performer, assistant director and designer for DV8 Physical Theatre, and also has performed and choreographed for theaters and companies throughout the United Kingdom.

CoisCéim — pronounced “Kush Came,” from the Irish word for “footstep” — was launched in 1995 and to date has created more than twenty dance theatre works, ranging from duets to large ensemble pieces, that combine a sense of fun and vitality with a depth of emotion and poignancy.

In addition to stage works, the Dublin-based troupe in recent years has begun creating site-specific pieces such as Swept, which was made for and presented in a hotel bedroom. Their 2001 film Hit and Run, shot on location around Dublin, has been screened at more than a dozen national and international film festivals as well as on network television.

Other projects include choreographing a piece — involving 75,000 people — for the opening of the 2003 Special Olympics, which were held in Ireland. Last September they presented Intimate Details, a dance spectacle created for the opening ceremony of the Ryder Cup.


Founded in 1973, the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.

Edison Theatre programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors. The OVATIONS! Season is supported by The Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Calendar Summary

WHO: CoisCéim

WHAT: Dance concert, Knots

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 29 and March 1

WHERE: Edison Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

TICKETS: $30; $25 for seniors and WUSTL faculty and staff; $18 for students and children. Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.

SPONSOR: Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543 or