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Open Call 2021

Step Up Dance Project 2021 continues to bridge the gap between dance education and professional contemporary dance practice in Ireland. Step Up is curated by Irish born, Marguerite Donlon, International choreographer. She is the Dance Director of the Dance Company at Theater Osnabrück, Germany. She is also the founder and director of Donlon Dance Collective, a project company based in Berlin.

Step Up aims to enhance young dancers’ professional networks, by connecting them to the Irish and international contemporary dance community, thereby improving professional opportunities for young dancers in Ireland and abroad. The eight-week programme is open to dancers who have completed their professional training within the last three years and who hold an EU passport.

This year’s eight-week programme combines:

- Creation of new works with leading choreographers
- Learning repertoire from renowned international companies
- Personal coaching
- Performances in Limerick, Longford and Project Arts Centre, Dublin


David Bolger, Choreographer (Ireland). Based in Dublin, David is Artistic Director and co-founder of CoisCéim Dance Theatre.  He has directed and choreographed over 25 original productions for the Company, many of which have toured both nationally and internationally – garnering international recognition and prestigious awards for their innovation, performance and choreography. More info

Lucyna Zwolinska, Choreographer (Poland, Germany). Lucyna has performed with many internationally acclaimed companies including The Forsythe Company, Ballet des Saarländisches Staatstheater in Saarbrücken and Company Susanne Linke. Her own choreographies have been presented by Stuttgarter Ballett, TANZtheatre INTERNATIONAL and Tanzcompagnie Gieβen among others. More info



Marguerite Donlon, Choreographer (Ireland, Germany). Based in Berlin and Hagen, Marguerite has created choreographies for dance companies worldwide. Her work has been performed most recently by prima ballerina Svetlana Zacharova and the Bolshoi Ballet.  She has also created for companies such as the Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (NDT), the Stuttgart Ballet, Berlin Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Company in Chicago, Rambert Dance in London, the Companhia Nacional de Bailado (CNB) Portugal, Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz Munich, Musiktheater im Revier (MiR) Gelsenkirchen and The One Grand Show, Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin. Most recently she has created works for Visceral dance Chicago, BalletX Philadelphia, Theater Basel and Staatsballet Karlsruhe. Her own project company Donlon Dance Collective has performed extensively in Dublin, Longford, Siegen, Neuss, Leverkusen, Houston and Berlin. More info

Roy Assaf Dance, (Israel). Roy began formal training at the age of sixteen, when he joined a dance group led by Regba Gilboa at the community center in Kiryat Gat.  In 2003 he met the internationally recognized choreographer Emanuel Gat and made his mark touring worldwide with Gat as both performer and choreographic assistant from 2004-2009. Since 2010, he has created work independently. His work has been performed renowned venues and festivals including the Théâtre National de Chaillot, Jacob’s Pillow, Bolzano Danza, Pavillon Noir, Biennale di Venezia and the 17th Biennale de la Danse in Lyon. More info


Eoin Mac Donncha, Ballet master / Co-Rehearsal Director (Ireland). Eoin trained at The Rambert School of Ballet in London before working at various state theatres in Germany including Stadtheater Giessen and Staatstheter Saarbrucken. He has worked with the Cathy Sharp Dance Company, Switzerland, the Expressions Dance Company, Australia, and has danced for Ballet Hagen under the direction of renown choreographers including Wayne McGreggor. Currently, he works as a soloist in Budapest with choreographer Pál Frenák.  Eoin has taught at the Hong Kong academy of performing arts in Hong Kong, and has set a piece for the students of the graduating year there.

Eoin will teach morning class and will assist the choreographers and rehearse the new works. He will be in the studio at all times, to assist with artistic matters.

Laura Macken, Co-Rehearsal Director (Ireland). Laura Macken trained at The Irish National College of Dance and joined Dublin City Ballet as a student member at the age of 15. Dancing with the company for several years Laura danced corps de ballet and solo roles in ballets such as Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Pas de Quatre, and Gisele. Laura teaches company classes and has worked as rehearsal director for John Scott Dance for several projects. Laura has taught on past Step Up programmes in 2013 and 2018, and in 2020 and 2021 took on the role of Rehearsal Director.


In addition, participants will have opportunity to do class with the

Choreographers leading the individual programme elements and with a number of guest teachers based in Ireland.




Independent dance artists are required to initiate their own opportunities, to manage their career paths and often their own projects. The Personal Development aspect of the Step Up programme aims to give participants a broad toolkit or road map for taking the next steps in their career path. 


Activities will include

- Personal Coaching with Rivca Rubin (England). Rivca encourages artists to ascertain their vision, locate the essence and refine their practice, grow purpose, align practice to values, and create working cultures people engage with, flourish and enjoy working in. More info
- Connecting with key personnel within the dance field in Ireland
- Connecting with Step Up Alumni to hear their experiences since participating in Step Up




The full training / rehearsal / performance period runs from Monday 5 July  – Friday 28 August 2021, using state of the art studios and facilities at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at UL initially, and then at Dance Limerick, before performing in Limerick and touring to three-four venues including Backstage Longford and Project Arts Centre, Dublin.




Covid Protocols | All participants will be required to provide a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hours ]of joining the programme. Participants will be accommodated together so as to form a bubble or working pod and will be required to maintain contact only within the pod for the duration of the programme.

Rehearsals will take place 10.00 – 6.00pm Monday to Saturday for the duration of the rehearsal period. Some additional hours in the evening or on Sunday will be required, at the discretion of the choreographers.

6 Selected dancers will receive a full Step Up 2021 Scholarship which includes:

- Free access to the full programme.
- Accommodation Sunday 4 July – Friday 28 August inclusive.
- A weekly stipend toward day to day living costs.
- Travel expenses during the tour.

Participants must be available on an exclusive basis for the full programme.

What’s Not Covered: 

- Travel Expenses to and from Ireland / Limerick
- Accommodation outside of the dates above
- Health Insurance
- Covid Testing in advance of joining the programme


We are seeking applications from exceptional young dancers who will graduate prior to Summer 2021 or who have graduated from professional level dance training within the past three years.  

Please send your CV and a personal statement outlining your motivation to be involved in Step Up along with web links of recent live dance footage, on stage or in studio, made at home or outdoors to include:  

- An excerpt of a dance solo  
- An excerpt of improv

Applicants should submit one pdf, as an email attachment, to include cv, personal statement and web links. Please note individual video files and documents linked to Google drive cannot be accepted.

The Closing Date for receipt of applications is Friday 30 April to with Step Up Application in the subject line.


A shortlist of applicants will be invited to audition in in mid-May and letters of offer will be sent in the week immediately following the audition.

Queries on the application / process can be addressed to Jenny Traynor, Programme Director at

Download the Open Call here.


Step Up Dance Programme is a partnership between the Arts Council, Dance Ireland, Dance Limerick and the Irish World Academy for Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. 

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Step Up Dance Project 2020. Photo by Lucy Dawson

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