Announcing our third Early Years Artist in Residence!

We are delighted to announce that dance artist Monica Muñoz will be the recipient of the John Coolahan Early Years Artist Residency 2020-21.

A dancer and educator originally from Barcelona, Monica has extensive experience working with young children, and will facilitate her first set of Seedlings Early Years Workshops as part of the residency on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 May 2020.

Working creatively with the body through dance may be of particular importance and relevance for very young children for whom this is naturally their first language. So we are especially delighted to announce Monica Muñoz as the next recipient of this residency. She will in fact will be the first ever dance Artist in Residence at The Ark since we opened our doors in 1995!

On announcing as Monica Muñoz as the recipient of the 2020/21 residency, Director of The Ark, Aideen Howard, said, “I am delighted to welcome Monica Muñoz to The Ark as the John Coolahan Early Years Artist in Residence, the first dance artist in the role. Monica’s work as a choreographer will take The Ark’s early years practice in new direction and represents a new commitment to dance for the early years audience. I look forward to her dance workshops for young children starting in May.

Monica Muñoz said “I am thrilled and privileged to become the third John Coolohan Early Years Artist in Residence at The Ark. I feel this is a really exciting opportunity to move, dance, play and explore together with young children and their grown-ups. The residency will support a wider understanding of the body as a first place of learning and highlight the importance of movement and physical play in the Early Years. During this time I would like to expand and test new approaches as an artist working and creating dance with and for children. The Ark is a really committed child-centred organisation and I am looking forward to working with them to provide a space for growth, discovery and fun opportunities for young children. Time to engage, inspire and delight… see you at The Ark!

In 2018, The Ark established a new 12 month Early Years Artist Residency, which provides the selected artist with a year-long opportunity to develop their early years artistic practice in association with The Ark. Established in honour of the late Professor John Coolahan, a long-standing member of The Ark's board, the residency celebrates his outstanding contribution to education in Ireland during his long and rich career. It was established as an annual opportunity for three years with a different artist being selected to take up the residency each year. The residency recognises the importance of the arts in early childhood and aims to nurture and support the development of professional artists working in this emerging sector of arts practice. The inaugural recipient in 2018 was visual artist Lucy Hill, followed by theatre practitioner Joanna Parkes whose residency will come to an end in April 2020.

Applications were invited for a lead artist who would become The Ark’s third Early Years Artist in Residence for one year from May 2020 to April 2021. Professional artists from the fields of dance and music with an existing practice with children aged 2-4 were invited to apply.

Monica Muñoz is a dancer, performance-maker and educator originally from Barcelona and based in Dublin since 2014. She graduated at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen/Germany and completed an MA in Dance Education at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts. As a dancer she worked for over 20 years throughout Europe and performed across the globe with choreographers and companies such as: Tanztheater Heidelberg-Freiburg (GE), Cie Toula Limnaios (GE), Rui Horta (PT), Joachim Schloemer (GE), Cie Drift (CH), Konstantinos Rigos (GR), Tabea Martin (CH) and Public in Private (GE) among many others. She was nominated Upcoming Dancer by the magazine Ballet International/TanzAktuell. In Ireland, she has collaborated frequently with CoisCéim Dance Theatre as performer, assistant and teacher. Monica is passionate about facilitating dance for all ages and abilities, from toddlers to elders and also professionals in education and community contexts. She has facilitated explorations into the creative body for Dance Ireland, Dance Limerick, the Creative Schools Programme, BA in Contemporary Dance at the University of Limerick, Dance Theatre of Ireland, Step Up Project and CoisCéim, amongst others. In 2018, she received the Docklands Arts Funds from Business to Arts to bring access to performances and dance workshops to schools from the Docklands area. Last year, Monica created Groovy Movers, a dance participation programme with young children and parents/caregivers supported by Dun Laoghaire County Council. Her dance show for young audiences, Princesses Can Be Pirates, has toured nationally to 12 venues supported by the Arts Council, and to Germany supported by Culture Ireland. Recently, The Ark selected her to participate in an artists’ lab as part of the PUSH+ Creative Europe project for artists working with young audiences. Currently she is undertaking a research period supported by the YPCE Bursary Award from the Arts Council about dance for and with children in the early years.

As producing venue, The Ark is committed to providing a vibrant regular engagement in a year round programme for early years audiences. We are also strongly committed to supporting the development of artists who work with children as part of their practice. In line with our current strategy, this residency aims to weave together both of these key aspects of our work. We are looking forward to welcoming Monica for her first Seedlings Early Years Workshops at the start of May 2020.