Kildare Arts Service : Press Releases : Press Releases 2021

Kildare Dance Research Residency 2020-21 - A Creative Journey Continues

Choreographer and Kildare Dance Research Artist in Residence Philippa Donnellan updates us on her recent work undertaken at Dance Ireland, as part of the Dance Artist in Residence programme.


"For the final stage of BODY OF WORK I was lucky enough to invite two wonderful guest artists to join me for a few days in order to further my choreographic research. American dance artist Glenna Batson is a researcher/lecturer who, for the past four decades, has honed a trans-disciplinary approach to the study of dance, science and somatic studies. Kildare-based dance artist Ailish Claffey has a special interest in health, well-being and older people. Working collaboratively in diverse health/arts settings, her choreographic work examines the complexity of human relationships and the lived experience of those she works with. For the past few years Ailish has curated Kildare County Council Arts Service - Dance & Movement Summer Programme at Maynooth University Campus. It was also a delight to continue working with dance filmmaker Cathy Coughlan to document the process.

With these gallant women, we returned to the dance studio with enthusiasm. It was a joy to work together live – to move around the space as we wished, and to witness the full range of physical expression without worrying that we were on a zoom call and might ‘dance out of frame’!

Drawing on research that had arisen from my recent Body of Work workshops, we focussed our explorations on looking at care and caring as a form of work – and its impact on our lives and bodies. This touched a nerve for all of us, and soon proved to be a provocative and powerful theme. We all had personal experiences of care and being cared for – and acknowledged that this vast theme, common to people the world over, was 
both relevant and timely. 

As Ailish pointed out – ‘There is no one face of care, caring is intergenerational. It is steeped within families and communities, its value never fully recognised. What is the value of care? Its currency is most certainly not financial. How does one measure care, prepare for a role of caring or care for one-self when providing care? These are some of the questions that we considered during our time together’.

So we embarked on 3 days of play, dance and discussion. Time flew by as we shared experiences, explored ideas, and improvised through movement and choreography. Occasionally it was a bumpy journey as we tussled with complex issues and the sheer physical impact of this type of work. Glenna stated that ‘the work called, not only upon our own life experience, but also brought us up close and personal with the continuum of  the human condition’. Despite – or maybe because of this challenging topic, we found it a richly dynamic experience. It was great to exchange a few creative methods along the way so we might explore these themes with others and inspire dance performance, and of course also to share a few top tips on what might not work!

Enriching and informative, this research allowed much to be discovered, which as Glenna aptly remarked ‘from mining memory, I unearthed gems, losses that I mistakenly believed to be buried and gone'. This Body of Work is far from over. The plot thickens, the imprint deepens, a muchness beyond measure. Thank you to all  who have taken part and ontributed to BODY OF WORK research, I look forward to this creative journey  continuing in Kildare and beyond…"

- Philippa Donnellan
October 2021


Philippa Donnellan is Kildare Dance Artist in Residence 2020/21

Image: Dancers Glenna Batson, Ailish Claffey and Philippa Donnellan.

Image credit: Cathy Coughlan.

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