Therapy through dance: Irish company CoisCéim brings ‘Knots’ to Edison

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.

Such is the thesis behind “Knots,” an evening-length concert by CoisCéim (pronounced Kush Came), one of Ireland’s leading contemporary dance companies.

Who needs a marriage counselor when you can spend a night at Edison? Irish dance company CoisCeim explores the twists and turns of intimate relationships at Edison Theatre Feb. 29 and March 1.

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 8 p.m. Feb. 29 and March 1.

“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 said. “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?”

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,” Steel said. “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 a 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,” wrote 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,” the newspaper stated.

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 — from the Irish word for “footstep” — was launched in 1995 and to date has created more than 20 dance theater 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 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 in Ireland.

Last September they presented “Intimate Details,” a dance spectacle created for the opening ceremony of the Ryder Cup.

Tickets — $30 to the public; $25 for seniors, faculty and staff; and $18 for students and children — are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets.

For more information, call 935-6543 or e-mail