WINDOW WOMAN | Smock Alley 2018

by Fiona Quilligan 


The inspiration for this work was prompted by the memory of the Irish sculptor James McKenna while helping him to install his work an Grianan at Fernhill.

He had gathered a small group to assist him with the rigorous job of lifting his female figures into the canopy of trees. I remember being daunted when he put Zelda and I in charge of the pulley rope as the figures were drawn up.


Recently I began to reimagine his sublime figures An Lánúin (the couple), Dúil (longing) and Miss Geraldine Square in movement. Drawing from both the sensual and powerful aspects of these warrior women whose strength seemed to resonate with the struggles of women today.  


Often I find myself making objects or preparing material for the stage design. I began dyeing wood shavings the colour red and wrote a number of texts about McKenna. The act of pouring this red material on stage draws the image, text and film together as the sculptural bodies grow into a ritual dance.

I am delighted to collaborate with composer David Collier - his score Smacht unfolds as the dancers emerge through these sculptural forms into movement.



“Like fragments strewn among ancient columns you built your figures limb upon limb, stone upon stone assembling the female anatomy of Miss Geraldine Square”.Text Fiona Quilligan 



Choreographer Director: 

Fiona Quilligan 

Composer: David Collier 

Dancers: Justine Cooper 

Zelda Francesca 

Olwen Grindley  

Lucia Kickham

Yuliya Prokhorova 

Lighting Design:

Sharon Bagnall 

Costume: Denise Assas

Voices: Maria Fernandez, 

Mariana Saad, Brian Bourke, Lucia Kickham,

Zelda Francesca

"Tonight we went to see the wonderful newly written performance of dance Window Woman In Smock Alley Theatre. We sat on rows, as tho’ in the Colosseum, looking on at the action down below, as the dancers slowly and silently echoed the movement of horses dancing towards a doomed fate. This was the first act of Fiona Quilligan’s piece, Window Woman, which was inspired by the work of the renowned Irish sculptor James McKenna, whose rough-hewn wooden horses and warriors are recreated by six wonderful dancers, augmented by intriguing props and vivid costumes. Music is by David Collier, whose sensitive collaboration matches the quiet, and at times ominous atmosphere. I can say no more without diminishing this extraordinary performance".  Patricia Hurl Artistic Director of Damer House Gallery, Roscrea

Justine Cooper and Lucia Kickham in Window Woman - Nurture 



Projects Arts Theatre

by Fiona Quilligan 


During 2014 I invited dancers to sit and talk about their lives while I made casts of their feet.  As the feet multiplied in number, the richness of their stories echoed in my mind and so the idea for a new dance work Casts and Conversations was born.


Amid these delicate and unique casts on stage, the dancers explore their intertwined relationships with the musicians, as they move closer to the lyrical melodies in step with their desires and passions. "In dynamic rhythm and whirl... letting loose their bodies they fly in their imagination."


‘Quilligan has a rich stock pile of stories’ 

Director|Choreographer: Fiona Quilligan 

Composer|performer: Donal MacErlaine, guitar; 

Rory Pierce, cello.

Dancers: Katia Pugni, James Hosty,

Dagmara Jerzak, Lorcan O'Neill,

Joanna Banks (on film) 

Lighting: Sarah Jane Shiels

Film Editor: Gareth Atkinson 

Photography: Kevin McFeely

Graphic design|programme:

Maria Nilsson Waller  




Converge Diverge Back Loft 2016

Choreographer Fiona Quilligan and visual artist Paola Catizone 


Fiona Quilligan - choreographic note


For converge diverge I was influenced by a visit to the red sea in Egypt where I experiencing swimming with the exotic fish in the coral reef. We also travelled to Mount Sinai one of the oldest Christian sites, where the Pharaohs mined for copper and precious stones. This extraordinary mountain range of pink granite, shale and limestone all thrown up into sharp crystallized formations was tempered by a sense of surveillance as we moved in convoy through checkpoints. When I returned to Dublin I started making the black and white paintings as a context for movement sequences. I was introduced to the music of the Lebanon composer Sami Moufadden by Nigel Wood and this led me to reflect on those who live in conflict in middle eastern countries. Gradually ideas of dispossession - a dance work of solidarity as a testimony to their suffering emerged. It has been fascinating sharing these ideas with Paola and I would like to thank her for her probing intellect, dialogue and support in the studio. 


 Paola Catizone - artist note 


I see the body as the locus of both personal and cultural narratives. Institutional oppression begins with the control of bodies, with the regulation of what Foucault called Biopower. In a time of mass displacement and forced migrations the body can become the last and only home to inhabit, and it is bodies, in revolt, war or natural disasters that perform in the spectacle of our TV news.

For Converge Diverge I have explored the possibility of building an installation that also functions as a stage set in the theatrical sense. 

Pas de Chat - 2013

Project Arts Centre

By Fiona Quilligan 

Pas de chat portrays the imaginative power of the choreographer.

 'I was dreaming of a new work ... if only I could do something as simple as a catwalk and stretch out as it does....and then what?  More drama more action'.


Contemplating step and structure, the work unfolds as she embodies fast and slow dance rhythms to a dynamic piano score by Irish composer Elaine Agnew.


'The poetic Pas de Chat illustrates Quilligan's strengths as a choreographer, Throughout there is a conflicting sense of reclaiming the past and also letting it go, summed up in the beautiful final video projection of Quilligan dancing in an old costume in a leaf-strewn park'.   Michael Seaver Irish Times 

Choreographer|Director: Fiona Quilligan

Composer: Elaine Agnew

Performers: Fiona Quilligan, Lucia Kickham

Lighting Design: Hugh Roche Kelly.

Photography: Lucia Truffarelli

Film: Paula Geraghty 




Soma Contemporary Gallery, Waterford 

Pallas Studio, Dublin. 

A study of the relationships and discordances between Drawing, Dance Performance and Video Art with visual artist Paola Catizone, choreographer Fiona Quilligan and DJ Nigel Wood.

Performed by: Paola Catizone and Fiona Quilligan 

Music Research: Nigel Wood

Photography: Florence Paule​

"in a supine manner with a combination of improvised and pre-determined gestures, each making marks with both hands... the bodily movements are more elaborate, flowing and developed, yet the resulting drawing emerges, once again, as a product of pre-determined parameters and without conscious ‘deliberation’.


If the early circular pieces are ‘evidence’ of a durational event, this time we have more the feeling of a ‘mapping’ of movements that are more planned, choreographed and chronological."

Article by Kirstin Simpson - Art In The Contemporary World,

(Kirstin lectures in architecture at Waterford Institute of Technology).





Wood Quay Venue

By Fiona Quilligan


Modern engineering meets modern dance in Paper Pylons, a dance work by Choreographer Fiona Quilligan in collaboration with filmmaker Marek Bogacki Staszkiewicz.


Using archive material from the ESB Shannon Scheme at Ardnacrusha (1925) where my father worked as an engineer, the work explores personal and political consequences in a series of duets, film imagery and texts.


"He described the massive scale of the operation, Siemens the contractor's and the size of the turbines

with hundreds of rivets hammered by hand".  


Choreographer / Director:  Fiona Quilligan

Film / Director:  Marek Bogacki

Dancers: Olwen Grindley, Maria Nilsson Waller,

Fiona Quilligan 

Music: Working Men for cello and vibraphone

Shostakovich Piano Concerto No 2 in F. Andante

Voice: Peter Duffy, Fiona Quilligan

Lighting: Kevin Smith

Photogpaphy: Marcelo Biglia, Kevin McFeely

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