Intruiguing Ingrid

Pictured: Ingrid Nachstern & Luca Truffarelli

Pictured: Ingrid Nachstern & Luca Truffarelli

Residents of Dublin 4 may already be familiar with the work of dancer Ingrid Nachstern in her role as a dance teacher. She opened her Ballet School in Sandymount in 1997. Since then she has taught classical ballet and passed on her passion for dance to hundreds of local children.

What admirers of her work as a teacher may not be familiar with are her achievements as a performer and as the Artistic Director/Choreographer of the Night Star Dance Company. The company’s production ‘Table Manners/Stopping at Red Lights’ (2014) – a short film adapted from an original piece choreographed by Ingrid – has been making waves on the international contemporary dance scene and winning acclaim at screendance and film festivals around the world.

Amongst other tributes, it received a Best Shorts Award in San Diego, California, Best Editing Award from the Modica Film Festival in Sicily, and an Award of Recognition from the Accolade Global Film Competition in La Jolla, California, which recognises exceptional achievement for craft and creativity in film, television and videography.

‘Table Manners/Stopping at Red Lights’ was first staged as a live performance in Project Cube during April 2013. The idea for the original piece was sparked by News reports of a man who went on a killing spree through villages in the North of England, murdering random people on the way. As he made his deadly journey he stopped at red lights, like any normal person would do.

The dichotomy between the killer’s lethal acts and his social conditioning intrigued Ingrid. The dance explores the contradictions between private/public behaviour and touches on issues such as over-consumption, abuse of resources and over-reliance on medication. It is, like all of Ingrid’s work, designed to make members of the audience re-examine their worldview.

The film version features an outstanding cast with Lucia Kickham, Michael Cooney and Ingrid, who also directed, and Michael Gallen on sound. It was shot in Clonskeagh with film-maker Luca Truffarelli who has collaborated successfully with several choreographers and dance companies in the past.

Ingrid was only three when she first started studying Classical Ballet with well-known Dublin ballet teacher Muriel Kitt. She recalls that she ‘didn’t like it much’ because she was very shy and found public performance overwhelming. She took the Royal Academy of Dance examinations up to the age of 17, before taking an extended break from dance.

After graduating from Trinity College Dublin, with a B.A. in Modern Languages, she worked as a translator in Toronto, London and Oxford. It was during her stay in Canada that she started dancing again, taking classes with Richard Sugarman in Toronto and later with Joanna Banks in Dublin. She also undertook the three-year teacher training course at the Royal Academy of Dance (London).

As much as she loves her work as a dance teacher, Ingrid likes to push herself as far as possible out of her comfort zone. In 2003, eager for a new challenge, she established the Night Star Dance Company. The company’s debut performance took place in Project Cube the same year, with ‘Bow-Tie Like Chioni’, a piece inspired by the death of her father. She has since created 14 original works for Night Star, which have been performed in Ireland and at arts and dance events around the world.

She returned to public performance as a dancer in 2011, when she was invited to present her solo work ‘Who Am I?’ at the famous Dance Theater Workshop (DTW) New York, as part of Culture Ireland’s Imagine Ireland series. During a ten-minute Q&A session after the performance she found, to her surprise, that the audience “got it” – they truly understood the message that she wanted to convey. It was an important moment for her because it gave her the confidence to see herself as a performer and choreographer, and as an artist with something interesting to say.

Since then, she has worked with many celebrated dancers and choreographers, including such luminaries as Michelle Boulè, Sari Nordman and Steve Paxton.

She is genuinely surprised at her recent success and told NewsFour that she is more motivated now, at sixty-two, than she was when she was younger. She “never says no to any opportunity.” At an age when most professional dancers have made a career transition in the opposite direction, Ingrid continues to push the boundaries and accept new challenges. Nowadays, she relishes public performances and believes that “dance for its own sake is just navel gazing – you have to dance for an audience, not for yourself.”

Dance is her way of expressing ideas and Screendance offers another space to stage performances and gain access to receptive audiences.

Readers can expect to hear more about Ingrid’s accomplishments as she enters this new phase of her career. She recently collaborated on a second short film with her “perfect film partner” ‘Luca. Freedom – to go!’ a commentary on present day America in verse” is currently being submitted to Screendance and film festivals in Ireland and overseas. A third short film is in the works.

By Jennifer Reddin