Co-Production with Eigse Carlow
Collaboration Choreographer Liz Roche and composer Micheal O Suilleabhain.


Housed within the performance structure of the traditional Irish “session”, the formal and improvisational structures that form the basis of the traditional dances and music are re-interpreted creating a new fusion between modern bodies, instruments and audience.

Choreographically, the piece is a re-interpretation of the rules of how traditional Irish dances are put together; exploring where their impetus in movement comes from and how this can be adapted and made relevant to a modern dancers body. Patterns develop that are exaggerated or indulged, but the functions of the original dances are followed in order to see what movement and images emerge. These "new" movements and images hold an independent and original meaning while maintaining an essence or residue of the original traditional dances.

The starting place of this work is quite similar to Micheal O Suilleabhain's 1975 Gael Linn album in which he worked with non Irish traditional instruments juxtaposed onto Irish traditional music, ballads, and carols. In this piece, I am suggesting that the body of a modern dancer could be seen as the "non traditional instrument".

“This piece in some way deals with my own personal struggle between my perceived cultural identity and the reality of being an Irish modern dancer/choreographer who is formed by various experiences not necessarily grounded in an Irish context. This process brought up a deep unrest in my relationship with the Irish traditional Arts, and in turn made me question my connection to being “Irish” and all that entails be it a post-colonialism or post- catholic sentiment. Whatever the feeling, it was a sense of “not fitting in” which is pretty universal. To remedy this, because it is in my nature to try and make things better, I decided to situate the Irish modern dancer in the context of an Irish traditional session and not question the right of this dancing body to be there. The result is Unsung”

Unsung is supported by The Arts Council, Culture Ireland and Deis and was originally co-produced with Eigse Carlow Arts Festival 2008. We would also like to acknowledge the support of RTÉ and The Arts Council in commissioning for the dance film initiative RTÉ Dance On The Box the short film Unsung from which this project has been developed.


The piece was later presented at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Dancers: Philip Connaughton, Katherine O’Malley, Grant McLay, Liz Roche
Musicians: Micheal O Suilleabhain, Kenneth Edge, Kate Ellis
Singer: Iarla O Lionaird
Lighting: Lisa Mahony



Unsung 2008