Zelda Francesca and Alex Diana

in Dark Pigeons - Samuel Beckett Theatre 

Alex Diana, Paul Kelly and Frankie Lane in Miss Monaghan - Project Arts Centre

 Kim Nolan in Signals - Samuel Beckett Theatre 

"If past experiences are revealed through our body language, then a dancer's body is the sum total of thousands of classes, rehearsals and performances. Dancer and choreographer Fiona Quilligan's distinguished career... Michael Seaver Irish Times  


FIONA QUILLIGAN, Dublin-born, award-winning choreographer trained with Joan Davis and at the London School of Contemporary Dance with Jane Dudley and Bill Luther (both soloists with the Martha Graham Company) and in classical ballet with Maria Fay and Brenda Last.  She performed with Dublin City Ballet where she was fortunate to work under artistic director Louis O’ Sullivan, Babil Gandara (soloist with Irish National Ballet), Anna Sokolov, Paula Hilton Gore, Pearl Gaden and Arlene Phillips . Other memorable studies include visiting Pina Bausch in rehearsals of Palermo Palermo in Wuppertal and attending Karl StocKhausen rehearals in Frankfurt of ORCHESTER - FINALISTEN.

In 1990 she founded Rubato Ballet creating 25 original works for gifted dancers, Zelda Francesca, Daire O'Dunlaing, Muirne Bloomer, James Hosty, Alex Diana, Ernest Rames, Katherine O' Malley, Ella Clarke and Rionach Ni Neill amongst others.  In 1992 she received the Nijinsky medal from Warsaw and in 1996 the AIB Better Ireland Award in Arts and Culture.  The archival material of these works can be found at the National Dance Archive in Limerick University where she received an MA in Performance Arts.  Fiona is a founder member of Dance Ireland. In April 2017 Fiona was made a member of Aosdana for her contribution to dance in Ireland since 1990.


IN 2015/16 Fiona collaborated with Paola Catizone in Converge/Diverge, a work which expressed solidarity for the innocent people fleeing war zone of the middle east. The work was performed in the Back Loft May 2015.  She further presented the creative process, film and text in the Rathmines Library Exhibition Room December 2016. 

Her current work Casts and Conversations was performed at the Project Arts Centre in November 2014.  Prior to that a series of solo and duet works were premiered, Paper Pylons at the historical site of Wood Quay in 2011 inspired by archival photographs of the hydro electric project the Shannon Scheme, followed by Pas de Chat - an autobiographical portrait which premiered at Project Arts in 2013




Her early works include:


 Fertility Dance, a site specific dance work for the Pillar Room, Rotunda Hospital.  A documentary Damhsa i mBláth profiling Fiona’s creative process of Fertility Dance was funded by the Arts Council and TG4, and broadcast May 2000 and for RTÉ April 2004Cúchulainn a Chroí, based on Táin Bó Cuailnge, premiered at the National Gallery of Ireland and Anna Livia Plurabelle,a series of embodiments inspired by Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, for DanceFest at the Samuel Beckett Theatre. Other initiatives include the unique cross border dance project Dancing on the Border made possible by EU Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation at Garage Theatre Monaghan.

Fiona has pioneered links with related art disciplines building a special relationship between choreographer, composer, poet, painter and sculptor.  Her commitment to commissioning artists includes collaborations with composer Fergus Johnston for Signals, the haunting voice of poet Paula Meehan in The Saxophonist in the room next door and Wounded Child, and Raymond Deane’s thrilling performance of his piano score for Bull Dance.  The bold and monumental sculpture of James Mckenna and Tim Morris in Monkey Rib and Janet Mullarney’s fleeting figures in Dance Strokes linger in memory as does the large canvases of Michael Mulcahy’s for Images of Nijinsky. 

She also collaborated with jazz musicians Mike Nielsen, Richie Buckley, Patrick Carrianas in A Close Shave; with traditional Irish musicians Kíla and Liam Ó Maonlai in Éamann Laoch A Linne; with Frankie Lane in Dark Pigeons, Emer Mayock and Robbie Harris in Cúchulainn a Chroí and Paul Kelly in Miss Nora Mary Monaghan.  These collaborations all contribute to the unique hallmark of Quilligan's choreographic works over the last twenty years.




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