Choreography as Map-Making: Transforming Difficult Pasts through Dance

thecasementproject_fearghusoconchuir_photographermatthewthompson_4Fearghus Ó Conchúir, choreographer and dance artist, IRC Fellow at Maynooth Geography and Project Arts, and director of The Casement Projectshares his reflections about the ‘place of the wound’ in Ireland and ‘mapping spectral traces’. Photography Matthew Thompson, courtesy of the artist.

As a choreographer, my particular attention has been to the formation of individual and collective bodies in Ireland under the ‘choreographic’ regimes of colonialism, Catholicism, nationalism and, increasingly, neoliberal capitalism. For example, the assumption that Irish people are no longer the observant Catholics of 50 years ago, risks missing the legacies of that religious hegemony that are still carried in individual bodies and that still shape the environment in which those bodies move.

Choreography – making dances that move and transform – is my means of map-making. I’m reluctant to make maps that are fixed and definitive. Instead, I work with others to build structures that mobilise difficult pasts in a way that makes it possible to imagine new outcomes and different futures.


Fearghus Ó Conchúir and  dancers from ‘Butterflies and Bones’ at Féile Fáilte, a day-long celebration of dance on Banna Strand, Co. Kerry (2016). This was a key event in The Casement Project, part of the Arts Council’s ART:2016 programme. Picture courtesy of Clare Keogh. Further Info Contact Christine Monk

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