To imagine and materialise what decolonialisation should be in the Irish context and specifically in the experience of bodies in Ireland is a complicated task. It is complicated by the specific history of colonialism on the island and by how that history intersects with experiences of colonialism elsewhere. While decolonialisation and projects of racial justice are not the same, it is clear that movements against racism have brought contemporary urgency to the imperative of decolonialisation. The aim of this presentation is to highlight some of the legacies of colonialism on bodies in Ireland, to propose an understanding of embodiment that allows us to conceptualise how such legacies shape bodies and, as a result, offer processes for proposing and dancing alternatives ways of being. The presentation derives from my situated perspective as a dance artist formed in Ireland and draws on my creative work – in particular, a 2010 dance film for television, Mo Mhór Choir Féin – as material for the conceptualisation.
Fearghus Ó Conchúir is a choreographer and dance artist. Frequently collaborating with experts from across and beyond the arts, he has made film and live performances as frameworks for audiences and artists to build communities together. He’s currently co-leading a project with Micro Rainbow International that he initiated as part of The Casement Project (2016) to support LGBT refugees and asylum seekers through creative movement workshops. From 2018-2020, he was Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales. He is Deputy Chair of the Arts Council of Ireland. Fearghus is a founding Associate Artist at Project Arts Centre and gained his PhD at the Geography Department in NUI Maynooth with the support of an IRC Employment-based Scholarship.
Photo: Kirsten McTernan