The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with regret of the death of Co-founder of Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company, Ursula Laeubli, who died yesterday, following a long battle with cancer, in her home country of Switzerland.
Professional dancer, choreographer and instructor, Ursula Laeubli set up Echo Echo with Steve Batts in Amsterdam in 1991, the year she graduated with a degree from the School for New Dance Development at the Amsterdam School of Arts. They relocated to Derry~Londonderry in 1997 where, as resident dance company at the Playhouse Theatre, Echo Echo became one of just a small handful of dance organisations on these islands. Under the artistic direction of Laeubli and Batts, the company developed into a leading contemporary dance company in Northern Ireland and one of the most interesting in the UK or Ireland, touring regularly with original pieces devised for an ensemble of local and international dancers.
Laeubli's commitment to taking dance forward as an artform in Northern Ireland and to making dance performance and education more accessible, led to the introduction through Echo Echo of a dance education programme catering for all age ranges and abilities, support provision for dancers and choreographers at all stages in their professional careers, and partnerships formed with education and community sectors, including recently the Dance Degree Course at the University of Ulster.
The Arts Council has funded Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company since 1998 and has supported a number of individual dance projects by Laeubli. Gilly Campbell, Drama and Dance Officer at the Arts Council, paid tribute, saying:
"Under Ursula Laeubli's inspired leadership, Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company has become a vital part of the creative life of the North West and is an influential contributor to Derry-Londonderry's offering as City of Culture 2013. Ursula's individual contribution as a dance teacher and as an internationally accomplished dancer and choreographer in her own right, has made a profound and lasting impression on the development of contemporary dance in Northern Ireland."