Instant Dissidence

By annmarie.keaveney, 2 April, 2024
Samples of work
4 young people sitting on pumpkins Girls dancing one with a foot on the chair

Artist Biography

Rita Marcalo is the Artistic Director of Instant Dissidence, a dance company based in Cloughjordan Ecovillage. 

As a socially and ecologically engaged company, Instant Dissidence foregrounds the role of dance as a social engine. The company’s work resists the idea of art as an object produced by a special kind of person called the ‘artist’, and work is often co-created in dialogue with (and performed by) non-professional artists about issues which matter to them: the people whom Rita assembles for each Instant Dissidence project become ‘artivists’, enacting the power of connecting art and social consciousness. Instant Dissidence believes in the ecological necessity of shifting art-making away from its current ego-centric paradigm (art about humans, for humans) to an eco-centric paradigm (a post-humanist epistemology where humans are conceived as intertwined with, and dependent upon, nonhuman life). 

In October 2018 the United Nations warned that humans had 12 years to create a new civilization in order to avoid a climate and biodiversity catastrophe, and Rita made a pledge: over the next 12 years Instant Dissidence would make 12 works, each acting as a mirror to society as to the direction of travel. Since then the company created 5 works in 5 years, which have gained national and international acclaim and been the subject of various conference presentations/publications: 2018/19 - The Rebellion (Arts Council of England, Northern School of Contemporary Dance). 2019/20 - Dancing The Virus Apocalypse (Arts Council of England, CLAY). 2020/21 - Borrisokane Is Dancing (Communities Integration Fund, Dance Ireland). 2021/2022 - ... As If Trying Not To Own The Earth (Dublin Dance Festival, Bealtaine, Dublin City Council, Arts Council of Ireland). 2022/2023 - SlowMo (Perform Europe). 

2022 saw the company take on the international stage: the work SlowMo was one of 19 projects EU-wide selected by Perform Europe, Marcalo was the selected Irish artist by CROWD - International Dance Exchange (residency in Finland) and by the Centre Culturel Irlandais (residency in Paris), the company's work was the subject of a feature piece in European dance magazine Springback, and Marcalo presented at three international arts & climate change conferences (Sweden, Denmark and Italy). In Ireland support from the Arts Council enabled the development of two new dance & food activism concepts, and Marcalo was commissioned to deliver presentations as part of the Places Matter Arts Council conference and Creative Europe Ireland's Culture & Climate event. A Spring 2023 writing commission by Create for Create News 33 is here. 

In 2023 Instant Dissidence received one of the inaugural Culture Moves Europe’s Residency Hosts Grants (Creative Europe), enabling the company to host a Performance & Ecological Practice Residency in Cloughjordan Ecovillage in 2024, in partnership with performance artists from Slovenia and France. 

2024 will see Marcalo working with Wendy Houstoun, emilyn claid and Pete Shenton as mentors for a new work titled 12,600 Days (with an initial residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan, Ireland), and the production of a Dancing The Orchard: an Arts Council funded work connecting dance and apple juice pressing.  

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