|1985 to 1995
member of the Tanztheater Wuppertal
was born in 1956 in Dublin where she began ballet lessons at the age of six with Patricia Joan McCarthy. Later she studied with the American dancer Joan Davies, founder of the Irish Contemporary Dance Theatre and pioneer of contemporary dance in Ireland. Encouraged by Davies, in 1978 she switched to the London School of Contemporary Dance (The Place), where her teachers included Jane Dudley, Naomi Lapezon (both Graham dancers) and Molly Lake, who had danced with Anna Pawlowa. She also worked with Richard Alston, later director of the Ballet Rambert, and the Hungarian dancer Maria Fay, who taught the Royal Ballet.
Her first full-time dancing job was in Germany, at the Landestheater Coburg, but she didn’t wish to stay there and went for an audition in Wuppertal. Pina Bausch deemed her too young and advised her to try again in a few years. Back in London, on a course at the Urdang Academy in Covent Garden, she met Vivienne Newport, a Bausch dancer from the founding period, who was setting up her own company, at the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt. Newport invited Finola Cronin to join her little ensemble and she felt at home with the work there. Like Pina Bausch, Newport also worked by setting prompts for her dancers, although her approach was more intellectual and conceptual. In the brief period between 1982 and 1985 they created nine whole new pieces, including Mist, Hinter der Scheune überfrisst sich ein Ochse (with texts and songs by Eric Satie), Weder den Tag noch die Stunde, Persicaire, Ertrinken, Damals (That Time by Samuel Beckett) and Valeska Gert.
In 1985 Cronin signed a contract at Wuppertal. She didn’t find it easy at first; the movements for The Rite of Spring in particular were new to her. But she stuck with it and in the first piece she helped generate she already left a lasting impression; in Viktor she played the seasoned auctioneer, auctioning everything off at breakneck speed, people as well as things. She belonged to the original cast of Ahnen, Die Klage der Kaiserin, Palermo Palermo and Tanzabend II as well as dancing in the repertoire.
Back in Dublin
Homesickness took her back to her home city of Dublin in 1995, where she began a postgraduate degree in theatre studies at University College, culminating in a doctorate. From 1997 she began teaching at the university and in 2003 became a faculty member of the School of English, Drama and Film. From 2003 to 2007 she worked for the Arts Council of Ireland as a dance expert.
In 2012 Raimund Hoghe invited her to work on the creation of his piece Cantatas and perform in it. In 2018 she worked with the Irish choreographer Liz Roche on Näher… Closer, Nearer, Sooner and danced in the film version made by Liz Roche and the filmmaker Alan Gilsenen.
From 2019 to 2021 she performed in John Gerrard’s Mirror Pavilion for Galway Arts Festival during the Galway European Capital of Culture 2020.
Text by Norbert Servos
Translated by Steph Morris