BY SEÁN P. FEENY
THIS Sunday night, June 3, Gaoth Dobhair’s own Breandán de Gallaí will be rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest stars of the stage as he attends the 57th Annual Drama Desk Awards at The Town Hall in New York City.
Breandán will, in fact, be attending as a nominee as he has been nominated in the category of Outstanding Choreography for his ground-breaking contemporary Irish dance stage show Noctú which is also nominated in the Unique Theatrical Experience category.
The awards are the only major New York theatre honours for which productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway compete against each other in the same category. Noctú first toured nationally in 2011 after a series of auditions around the country which were subsequently show in the RTÉ series, Dance Off.
The show then went to New York to be shown at the Irish Repertory Theatre, presented as part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s year of Irish arts in America in 2011.
This is the first time that a show rooted in Irish dance has been nominated at these prestigious awards, which makes it an even bigger achievement for Breandán’s cast.
Breandán is up against choreographers from huge Broadway productions such as Evita, Newsies The Musical and Nice Work If You Can Get It. “The only other Irish people nominated are Cillian Murphy for Misterman (Outstanding Solo Performance and Glen Hansard for Once (Outstanding Music), so being nominated in two categories alone is a huge honour,” the former Riverdance star said.
Noctú is up against shows that are still running in New York which Breandán said was a world apart from their small production which saw them rehearse in his native Gaoth Dobhair with his mother making dinners for the young dancers.
“Friends from the theatre world were texting me immediately when they heard the news, that’s when I realised how big of a deal this actually was,” he said.
Speaking last weekend, Breandán said he was ‘very excited’ about flying to New York on Thursday to attend the awards ceremony which will hosted by stage and screen stars Brian d’Arcy James and Brooke Shields on Sunday night at The Town Hall.
“My brother Seán is coming over with me and we will be joined by one of our cousins living in the States and another friend so it should be very exciting,” he said.
Breandán revealed that following the last Irish tour nearly a dozen venues expressed interest in hosting Noctú so with a Drama Desk Award nomination that interest will no doubt increase.
“The show takes 14 to 16 dancers and it’s hard to make it financially sustainable, but we had such a great time on tour last year, especially in Letterkenny, so hopefully with the right branding and support we can make the next tour even better,” said Breandán.