Despite being well-prepared for my interview with Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan, I’m anxious about pronouncing the title of his latest work, MÁM. I rehearse my lousy Gaelic before the call and open by asking about the genesis of the piece, which premiered in Dublin last September.

Mám Teaċ Daṁsa’s MÁM. Photo © Ros Kavanagh

“Well I should start by explaining how the word is pronounced correctly,” comes the cheeky reply, followed by an assurance that it’s relevant to our discussion. I’m relieved.

Mám(pronounced with an elongated vowel) is a curiously Irish word with various meanings – mountain pass, obligation, handful, yoke – which seem unrelated in English. But as Keegan-Dolan explains, the shared connection in Irish derives from the shape of the letter “M”: the twin peaks of a mountain pass, the obligatory route when traversing a valley, the basin formed when cupping your hands, and the yoke that hooks around two cattle.

“It’s a very beautiful, complex word,” says the Artistic Director of dance company Teac˙ċDam˙sa. “When naming the piece, I liked the idea of using a word that had multifarious meanings. It’s an indication of poetic possibility, where things are not necessarily what...

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