Fiona Quilligan Casts and Conversations Project Arts Centre November 2014.
A critique by Finola Cronin.
Casts and Conversations opens quietly. A dancer traces a pathway and is joined by another who follows in her footsteps. They journey - their feet pad softly. Fiona Quilligan’s work is at times startlingly direct. Her stage is functional. Musical instruments - guitars and a cello - form the stage design. Musicians play and converse - a story emerges of twentieth century Ireland and immigration. Quilligan’s narrative is shaped by music and dance. Dancers’ histories of emigration and the real politik of the struggle of dancers in Ireland are transformed through image and artifact.
As the stage fills with delicately exquisite casts of dancers’ feet, their fragile white-lace translucence captures memory and history and dancers’ labour and struggle. Quilligan’s artistry however elevates the casts so that they cease to be artifact. As she suggested in the post-performance forum - the dancers’ manipulation of the casts breathes life into them and evokes Giacometti’s thin-limbed figures. In an Irish context they cannot but imply hunger and resilience.
As counterpoints to the dream-like, often ghostly, atmosphere of the work however, Quilligan’s dramaturgy introduces the hard-edged materiality of a dancer’s anatomical and muscular exertion as, for example, when James Hosty dialogues with a miniature model of a skeleton, or Dagmara Jerzak responds to cellist Rory Pierce’s musical line.
After the performance Quilligan invited spectators to view and touch the more than 40 pairs of casts on stage. Lodged in some were casts of children identified by what appeared to be bright red petals of tissue paper - a brilliantly poignant yet optimistic gesture towards those histories yet to unfold.
Critique by Dr. Finola Cronin is head of Drama Studies, University College Dublin. Finola was a company member of Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal.
Pas de Chat
Project Arts, 22-26th January, 2012
A double bill showing work by choreographer Fiona Quilligan and Maria Nilsson Waller.