Open Call for Early Career Dance Professionals

Deadline Monday 7 November 2022

Step Up Dance is a programme of professional development for recent dance graduates or equivalent early-career dance professionals.  We’re looking for dancers born or resident in Ireland who graduated in 2020 or since then and who are interested in being part of a paid professional development programme.  You’re also eligible, if your professional dancing career has started since 2020 but you have come through other training routes that didn’t involve graduation.  This is an opportunity for dancers in the early stages of their professional career.  If you are only starting your career or graduating in 2023 you are not eligible. Previous Step Up participants who match the criteria above are eligible to apply again.  We’re recruiting up to five dancers for this programme.

Step Up wants to connect recent graduates to the range of practices and practitioners that make up Ireland’s dance ecology and to the international networks of dance in which we operate. Curated by Fearghus Ó Conchúir and delivered under the guidance of Rehearsal Director, Lucia Kickham, the programme is focused on developing artists as performers while recognising the creativity necessary in the performer’s work.  Dance artists rely on a range of skills including technical competence, improvisational facility, the ability to process input from a variety of creative stimuli, alongside a capacity to perform and engage with audiences and publics in different circumstances.  We’re hoping you’ll come with some of those skills and with an appetite to develop them further.

In 2023, the programme has three core elements and an optional fourth.


A Performance in Context project with choreographer Maria Nilsson Waller to develop a new work in Limerick. Maria’s work asks what makes a place, or the people of a place? Just like the local flora and fauna of a place are shaped by and adapted to their surroundings, so are the people, the music, the language.  For Limerick, the river Shannon is a dominant natural feature. When making her work for Step Up, she plans to remain close to the river, both symbolically and in the earthly sense. Influenced by its presence she proposes a choreography that will be highly physical, with a constantly shifting stream of scenarios carried by the dancers through joy and freedom of pure movement, but also a work that echoes the rivers of time – the stream of genealogy passing through us, linking us with generations future and past. The piece will be performed by the Step Up professionals and a diverse group of non-professional, Limerick-based dancers.

Maria Nilsson Waller is a dance artist, choreographer, teacher and designer. She trained at the Royal Swedish Ballet school, ECSD Rosella Hightower, Cannes and Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance. She has been working freelance across Europe since 2004, and is since 2009 based in Ireland. Maria co-founded Flora Fauna Project in 2017 together with multidisciplinary artist Stace Gill/The Sei. The duo is currently dance artists in residence at D-Light Studios, Dublin.


Finola Cronin | Dance Artist & Lecturer in Theatre Studies at UCD.  Finola danced in Germany with Vivienne Newport in TAT Frankfurt, and with Pina Bausch in Wuppertal, and with many other choreographers including Raimund Hoghe in Düsseldorf and the Liz Roche Company in Dublin.

Mufutau (Junior) Yusuf is a Nigerian/Irish performer based between Dublin and Brussels. Trained mainly in dance and physical theatre, Mufutau regularly works with Brussels company Ultima Viz and is known to Irish artists and audiences through his work with Irish choreographer John Scott’s Irish Modern Dance Theatre and through his own choreography.


Independent dance artists often have to make their own opportunities, to manage their careers and build networks.  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 be in person for an additional week of practical and conversational activities at Dancehouse, Dublin 11– 15 September 2023.  The activities will include daily class and further opportunities to meet the dance community in Ireland.

Career skills – a series of workshops designed to support early career dancers in the practicalities of making a career in dance: topics will include self-employment, contracts, application writing, CV development.

Coaching – each participant will receive 2 x 45 minute sessions with a personal coach.


All five participants will have an opportunity to audition / interview for one of three paid work opportunities.  These will be offered by John Scott, Artistic Director of Irish Modern Dance Company, Emma Martin, Artistic Director of United Fall and Liz Roche, Artistic Director of Liz Roche Dance Company. Each company will offer a two-week period during the Research and Development process for new work.


Monday 7 November 2022                                          Application Deadline

Saturday 10 December 2022                                       Audition

Sunday 25 June – Saturday 5 August 2023                Training/Rehearsal/Performance

Monday 11 – Friday 15 September 2023                          Further Development Week


Covid Protocols | Because we want to make a space that’s inclusive, we’re encouraging participants to be fully vaccinated against Covid.  However, recognising that people have a variety of reasons for not being vaccinated, we will be operating a set of testing and pod-based protocols to manage the risks for everyone’s health.   Participants will be housed in an apartment together and will operate as a bubble. As such, we will be asking you to limit your outside contacts for the duration of the contract.

Rehearsals will take place in Limerick 10.00 am – 6.00 pm Monday to Friday for the duration of the rehearsal period.

Five selected dancers will receive a weekly fee of €650 over 7 weeks, along with accommodation for the period 25 June – 5 August and 11 – 15  September. Participants will be responsible for their own travel costs to and from Limerick, and for incidental travel while in Limerick.

Participants must be available on an exclusive basis to take advantage of the full programme.  This includes the Further Development week.


Please send your CV and a personal statement outlining your motivation to be involved in Step Up along with a weblink to a 1 minute improvisation.  Your personal statement can be written (100 words max.) or in video form (1 minute max. submitted as a weblink)

Applications should be submitted in one pdf, as an email attachment, to include cv, personal statement and weblink.  Please note individual video files and documents linked to google drive cannot be accepted.


The closing date for receipt of applications is Monday 7 November 2022 to with Step Up Application in the subject line.

The programme is committed to equality of opportunity, supports and encourages under-represented groups and values diversity.  We guarantee an interview to any dancer with a disability whose application meets the minimum criteria for the opportunity.   To be eligible for the guaranteed interview, you must have a disability or long term health condition which puts you at a significant disadvantage in either obtaining or keeping jobs. The disability could be physical, sensory or mental and expected to last for at least 12 months. You do not have to be registered as a disabled person to apply under this scheme.

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