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Old 05-02-2005, 07:28 PM   #1
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The Times article on Morleigh

Ireland: Morleigh Steinberg
She has her feet firmly on the ground but Morleigh Steinberg moves in mysterious ways, says Daire O’Brien

June 22, 2003

Morleigh Steinberg, wife of U2 guitarist Dave “The Edge” Evans, is sipping strained tea on a sofa in the Shelbourne hotel. Not, it must be said, the act one associates with a rock chick. In fact, physically, and in conversation she is the antithesis of a stereotypical rock star’s wife. According to a recent tabloid description, she is a “dark-eyed American beauty”. While it’s not inaccurate, she certainly also exudes a certain wispiness and soft-spoken fragility.
She gives the impression of a woman who must be surrounded by beautiful things. This is a woman whose poetic heart must never be exposed to the evil that men do. Her conversational tropes tend towards the ethereal — she talks, in a way difficult to imagine Kerry Katona or Karla Elliott doing, of “the three dimensions of dance, blending music, movement and light.” She is unaffectedly affable, however, and her lack of rock-star trappings, it becomes apparent, is no artifice.

A talented and successful dancer since childhood, Steinberg came from a privileged background but was a successful grafter in her own right, running her own dance school in California before she took over belly-dancing duties on the outdoor leg of U2’s Zoo TV tour in the early 1990s.

When romance blossomed with Edge, who had separated from his first wife, Steinberg shut up shop and moved to Ireland, where she has, as a choreographer and designer, helped the modern dance scene raise its game.

Currently she’s working with Liz and Jenny Roche’s company, Rex Levitates, lighting its new production, Bread & Circus, which opens at the Project on Tuesday. It is the respected company’s latest attempt to drag the hitherto unwilling middle orders along for a night of men in tights.

As artistic milieus go, modern dance tends towards the stratospherically obscure end of the spectrum, a forbiddingly abstract domain that prompts much bewildered scratching of heads among non-specialists.

Steinberg’s supplied biography is, in this vein, scrupulously abstract, talking of her ability to explore how light “captures movement, dictates emotion and sculpts space”. It’s a role, she adds in person, that involves “using more abstraction and emotion” than “just shining a light on someone’s face, as in the theatre”.

The obscurity of modern dance, which can seem wilful, means that shows, rare in themselves, and getting rarer since the Arts Council took a hatchet to the funding of some dance companies earlier this year, tend to attract only the zealots.

There are exceptions — Irish Modern Dance Theatre’s production The Last Supper, an impeccably choreographed, raucous bunfight held in the Trocadero restaurant last October — but they’re few.

Generally dance is for the committed few and the nonplussed salary men accompanying their wives and partners on the off-chance that it may be the type of dancing to which Michael McDowell recently objected.

Steinberg points out that the problem for dance in Ireland is that the audience just doesn’t seem to cross over. “In Italy, for instance, you have a theatre audience, an opera audience and a dance audience, and they follow everything to become one audience. It would be nice if that could happen here.

“Dance is an emotional experience and it can be a life-changing experience. What does it mean? Well what does it make you feel like?” Steinberg grew up in 1980s’ Los Angeles, the daughter of a wealthy movie lawyer and successful interior designer.

“I grew up dancing and have danced all my life, but my experience was in the creative and interpretative dance,” she says. “Of course, like every other child I wanted to be a ballerina, but my dance training was very personal, and while it had the discipline of the Martha Graham school it stressed relationships to objects and to poems.”

She and Edge have two children, aged three and five, and have just moved into a house in Killiney, which was bought last year but completely renovated. “It’s a huge relief,” she says. “We were renting for four years.”

They also have homes in France and California; what about the joys of rural Ireland? She laughs.

“No. I really must get to know more of Ireland, but it takes so long to go so close.”
She is fascinated by the changes in Irish society she has witnessed since she moved here nine years ago. “I feel lucky to have come here when I did and seen the changes. People now seem much more open and willing to deal with both their political and personal history.”

On an everyday level, Steinberg says she feels much more comfortable with Dublin today as a result of its growing ethnic diversity.

“Remember, I grew up in LA, which is a very gritty city. In ways it’s like a third-world city, with different international peoples. When I was here first, I was asking, ‘Where’s the Chinese quarter? Where’s the Indian quarter?’ It took me a long time to get used to that.”

The couple married last year and she describes her husband’s lifestyle as “very tightly knit. It’s all about close friends. But I don’t mind, I can walk anywhere and go into different worlds.”

While it is obvious she doesn’t want to talk about her husband — “There’s no real need to discuss him, is there?” — one gets the impression this is as much to do with her wish to help Rex Levitates as it is from celebrity paranoia.

Now that her children are older, Steinberg tries to take on more projects. As well as more dance, she is also keen to direct more movies and has, she says, a number of scripts that she is looking at.

“I love working in film. There’s a lot of great talent out there and a lot of great writers. I believe that the gift of the Irish is their written and spoken word and their sense of humour.”

She believes that Irish people also have a far better understanding of international affairs than her countryfolk. She is political, she says, in so far as “things do move me emotionally,” but when it comes to specifics is deliberately ambiguous. Was she pro or anti-war? “That’s difficult.”

Next week’s performances are the culmination of a long involvement “at the conceptual stage” with Rex Levitates. “It’s really nice to be taken in at an early stage,” she says.

She obviously stands in admiration of how Rex Levitates — founded in early 1999 by Liz and Jenny Roche — has managed to gain credibility at dance’s leading edge from such an unpromising geographical location. The company has won a host of awards and international invitations for its pieces, The Salt Cycle, Trip Down and Their Thoughts are Thinking Them.

Steinberg met Liz Roche when she lit the RHA fringe gallery exhibition in 2001. “She saw that piece and told me she was struck by the directness of it. I wasn’t trained as a lighting designer but after years of performing I started lighting just for fun.

“I guess I knew the genre and I am quite a visual person, so it wasn’t difficult to translate.”

As her mobile phone rings, she excuses herself and answers it. She tells the caller to phone her at home later before realising that she does not yet know her phone number.

“Not to worry,” I say. “I’m sure it’s in the phone book.” An indulgent smile issues from the dark-eyed American beauty, and then she is gone.
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Old 05-02-2005, 07:37 PM   #2
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wow nice article thanks xtal
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:27 PM   #3
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Thanks for the article xtal!
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Old 05-02-2005, 10:21 PM   #4
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Old 05-03-2005, 01:55 AM   #5
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Thank you xtal!
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Old 05-03-2005, 03:17 AM   #6
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Thanks -- its so rare that we get to hear about the amazing women behind the band
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Old 05-03-2005, 03:40 AM   #7
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Great article, thanks! It's nice hear about Morleigh. Too bad Edge won't be around to see her show open.
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Old 05-03-2005, 04:37 AM   #8
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Thanks a lot Xtal! It's nice to hear about her!
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Old 05-03-2005, 04:42 AM   #9
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Thanks for the article!
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Old 05-03-2005, 08:11 AM   #10
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I love that article. Morleigh is so so sweet and funny. I'm glad her and Edge have each other. They're perfect together.

I wish there was a more recent interview with her, though.
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Old 05-03-2005, 09:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by oliveu2cm
Great article, thanks! It's nice hear about Morleigh. Too bad Edge won't be around to see her show open.
I thought the same thing and then realised the article was from 2003
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Old 05-03-2005, 05:55 PM   #12
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Re: The Times article on Morleigh

Quote:
Originally posted by xtal
“I’m sure it’s in the phone book.” [/B]
...

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Old 05-03-2005, 06:49 PM   #13
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You know what, I hope Morleigh isn't in the phone book, damn the journalist for giving ideas! And why did I have to post such a thing?





Oh well, they're rock stars, let them deal with that...
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:02 PM   #14
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I think that was just a joke.
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Old 05-04-2005, 04:59 AM   #15
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I hope she isn't either- they probably get bothered enough by people knocking on their door and trying to peer in the windows. Yeah, that journalist wasn't the most diplomatic...

But yes, that was a joke. I wouldn't call her unless she gave me her number and told me to. Besides, I live in the US; where would I get one of their phone books?
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