For A Dancer

She may be wife of the U2 guitarist Edge, but Morleigh Steinberg is a fine artist in her own right. Her latest work premieres in Dublin in November.

Unlike so many Americans, Morleigh Steinberg – dancer/chorerographer/lighting designer/filmmaker – claims no Irish line in her heritage. Born in LA in 1961, Hollywood-raised and Beverley Hills High-educated, Steinberg’s connection to the Green Isle came about through her husband Dave Evans, better known as U2’s guitar maestro, The Edge.

Steinberg first met Edge during her work as choreographer on the Joshua Tree Tour, although they didn’t start dating until the end of the subsequent Zoo TV Tour, on which Steinberg also worked. By then, Edge had separated from his first wife, Aislinn O’Sullivan, with whom he has three daughters. Steinberg moved to Dublin in 1994 to be with her new partner. The couple’s children, Sian and Levi, were born in 1997 and 1999. Morleigh and Edge married in 2002.

Since she came to Ireland, Morleigh has been involved in a number of cutting edge dance productions, including Rex Levitates’ Bread & Circus.

Now Steinberg’s latest work, entitled Cold Dream Colour: A Dance Homage to Louis Le Brocquy, is to receive its world premiere in Dublin. She is the artistic director of the piece, which is inspired by the work of the great Louis Le Brocquy, regarded by many as Ireland’s foremost living artist.

“It was Edge who first introduced me to Louis’ work,” says Steinberg. “Louis is such a lovely, gentle, beautiful man. And he’s 94 years old – from another time. When I saw Louis’ paintings, it was obvious to me that they could be danced. They contain so much light and theatre and hope – and the magic of something appearing out of nothing.”

The music for Cold Dream Colour is composed by The Edge in collaboration with Feltlike, the experimental electronic outfit of composer Paul Chavez. Steinberg describes its genesis.

“I asked Paul and Edge to relate to the paintings themselves, independent of our choreograph or our dance,” Morleigh explains. “How does this painting feel to you musically? I really wanted this to be an investigation for them. The music is very textural and atmospheric. It was great getting Edge to do something which he doesn’t do normally. We get along very well, so it was great fun working together. And he was very open to my direction. But then again, I’m his wife (laughs).”

Having spent many years based in Dublin, Steinberg and Edge recently re-located their family to New York. Does Steinberg find it tough being away from their kids – now 13 and 11 – while she works on the show in Dublin?

“Yeah, it is hard,” she admits. “This is the longest I’ve been away from them for a long time. But Edge is with them. One or other of us are always with them, pretty much. I’m very careful about what I choose to work on. I try to time it so I’ll only spend two or three weeks away. But with a husband who works the way my husband works – I mean, when he’s on tour, he’s really on tour – it can be hard to get the timing right. It’s good that he’s at home with the kids right now, but it’s not ideal, in that he’s been gone a lot, and now I’m gone, and then when I get back, he goes. So that part of what we do isn’t great.

“But I’ve made my peace,” adds Steinberg. “I’ve had an amazing career. I accept that I’m not going to be a touring dancer. I pick projects that are based in places that are a bit more reasonable and logical in terms of the kids. It’s always been about shaping ourselves around my husband’s work. It’s a big thing, and I always knew that’s what would be required.

“We were living in Ireland pretty much for the kids’ primary education,” she adds. “Our daughter Sian got sick at age 7; she had leukaemia, which entailed three years of treatment, in Dublin and in California. She’s OK now, she’s got her all-clear. Then we learned that she’s dyslexic. We found an amazing school in New York for children with learning differences, and because she’s doing so well there, and Levi is doing so well at the school he goes to also, we decided that it was better that we stay in New York.”

Morleigh reflects that combination of love, concern and pride that parents feel about children who have had to deal with adversity.

“Sian’s a real trooper,” Steinberg says of her daughter. “She’s really coming into her own. She’s got a very insightful idea of who she is and is very wise for someone so young. She wants to be a writer.”

How did Steinberg and Edge cope with the stress of getting their daughter through such a life-threatening illness?

“We just had to find the light in it,” says Steinberg thoughtfully. “You can’t really learn from something unless you go through a trial. I chose to look at it with a lot of light. Without Sian’s illness, maybe our family would never have actually realised how lucky we are, and what really matters, and that certain things should just be let go of, because they really don’t matter. If you don’t learn lessons from horrific things, the horrific things have won. And you’ve no choice – you have to say: ‘this is what I got from it’. Then you can say: ‘this experience has actually made me a better person’.

“I never want to go through it again,” she concludes “but I’m grateful for what it’s given me.”

Cold Dream Colour plays at The Pavillion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire on November 12 & 13


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