Be Dance with Bernadette Divilly

Page 1

with Bernadette Divilly

Galway Dance Artist Residency 2020/21

Introduction 5 Bernadette Divilly Foreword 6 James Harrold Ballinasloe to Boulder 9 A Mind to Dance 10 Dance Art Lab 13 Listening 14 Dance Dates 19 Creative Exchanges 20 Across the Generations 26 Mind the Dance 27 Ending 34 Acknowledgements 35

alone we are connected in an energetic field of being together at the same time


Bernadette Divilly

Covid-19, its consequences, and our responses to it made 2019-2021 a challenging period. My world as a dance professional was impacted because performances, workshops, and research labs were not an option. I continued my work in this changed environment, and in doing this I was supported by my familiarity with Contemplative Dance Practice. I first encountered CDP in the late 1990s when I attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, in the United States, to undertake postgraduate studies in somatic psychology – dance movement psychotherapy. I had the good fortune to be in Naropa when the founder of CDP, Barbara Dilley, was teaching there. CDP brings together contemporary dance and Tibetan Buddhist practice to create a structure in which to work artistically and creatively. I continue my learning in biannual Dance Art Labs, a retreat for practitioners formed by Barbara Dilley in 2005 to support CDP practitioners and artists. In spring 2020 I assisted Darlene Lorrain and Mary-L. Bevington to bring CDP online. Be Dance is my own dance practice, which evolved and took shape during 2020-2021. With the world in lockdown, I explored options to be in my home dancing with others in their home locally, nationally, and internationally. I came, cautiously, to engage with technology. I created tutorial videos, made podcasts, and conducted workshops and events using Zoom. I did this mindfully and with care to balance the virtual with direct connection to sound, touch, and smell. I was also fortunate that during this time I was granted a Dance Artist Residency to support the development of infrastructure for dance through local authorities and organisations, all of whom I list in the Acknowledgements. The residency commenced in September 2020. Initially focusing on the 50-plus age group, we found that people from younger age groups wished to become involved, and, in this organic manner, the work became intergenerational. The participation of the Ballinasloe Women’s Group also brought women from 16 different countries and continents. This book is a legacy of my Dance Artist Residency in Galway.




James Harrold A r t s Of fi cer, Ga l wa y C i t y C o u nc i l, 1 990 - 2 02 1

Bernadette Divilly is beloved in Galway as a socially engaged artist, a gifted dancer, movement director, and choreographer. As arts officer for Galway City Council I was privileged to work closely over many years with Bernadette. I was perfectly placed to witness and support her captivating body–mind art-making, including work funded or co-partnered by the City Arts Office. Appointed as city dance artist in residence, she developed compelling programmes rooted in the city’s neighbourhoods and communities, transforming their psychologies and history into a complete world of physical expression where self becomes art. Movement, research, and vocabulary are linked in Bernadette’s collaborative practice. In these exchanges Bernadette gifts Galway her extraordinary wisdom, her unfailing expressions of delight. Her contemplative and intuitive interventions into the city’s narratives are remarkably effective, benefitting from her experience, motivation, professionalism, artistry, and exceptional gentleness. Her dance creations develop new understanding of how to position the art form in both urban and rural contexts, and her sophisticated vision inspires artistic projects that are both poetic and intimate, where the dancing body is a vector for innovative expression of change and adaptation, a pathway based on Bernadette’s mastery of psychology and somatic studies. Her contemplative dance and collaborative arts practices bridge and connect private and public experiences and creatively develop new understandings of landscape, culture and diversity, migration, intellect, health, and the body.


cultural imprints through the poetics of power presence and place It is innovative, invitational work, inclusive, adaptive, dynamic, and connected. Extending her hinterlands from her home town of Ballinasloe and her base in Galway city towards further horizons with connection to the global through shared dance labs projects, Bernadette has placed herself within universal contexts as she advocates for the intelligence of movement in international politics, governance, and working with conflict, incursions onto ancestral lands, and the colonisation of the body; her methods of interaction address cultural imprints through the poetics of power, presence, and place. Bernadette Divilly is a significant figure in the arts in Galway city and county. As an individual artist and as a member of the excellent Galway Dance Project, she has contributed powerfully to Galway’s creative narrative. Her partnership work with our artists, communities, Galway City and County Council Arts Offices and Library Service, the Town Hall Theatre Galway, and the Galway Dance Project is an enduring model of best practice. I respect her judgement, her passion, and her curatorial nous, and I value her enduring friendship. I welcome this wonderful book as a record and a showcase of a brilliant artist, feet off the ground, floating at the height of her creative powers.

Brava Bernadette! 75

Ballinasloe to Boulder Be Dance I am dance think dance feel dance and witness dance Struggling at the essence of human being pulled and pushed by competing cultural narratives What is the tone of a common-sense connection A resonance between bodies Challenging the weight of my conditioning my breathing is uneasy presence recovering balance

Bernadette Divilly


A Mind to Dance Only thing you can really teach is your own path. Jerry Granelli 1940 - 2021 I grew up in Ballinasloe, County Galway, in the west of Ireland. Ballinasloe is a small town (population c. 7,000) whose name in Irish, Béal Átha na Sluaighe, means ‘mouth of the ford of the crowds’. Much of its infrastructure is shaped by three centuries of English colonisation. My parents lived across the road from the hospital where I was born in 1958. This brick building is sheltered by old stone walls and gigantic trees linking it to Garbally Park. Our local shop was a place where community conversations and daily life concerns were shared. As a sensitive child I absorbed much through atmosphere, body language, and symbolism. The Catholic hierarchy was a forceful influence on daily life in the town. A white chapel box with a black roof and a small thin child, hands extended, invites pennies to feed the starving via donations to the church. It sits on the counter beside the cash register. One day two young nurses come in; they wear woollen rose-pink capes over starched white uniforms. Their dark skin and bright smiles fill me with curiosity. They stay close. These moments shape questions that my young self does not know how to articulate. I owe so much of my learning to customers who frequent my parents’ grocery store. It was a stimulating environment that focused on the currency of care alongside commerce. The shop allowed me a college education and gave me an appreciation of community which I still value. I also dance what I sensed and felt there. In Garbally Park, in the 1960s, I moved among the trees, in the woodland oaks and holly with my younger siblings. Deirdre Madden, who had a particularly pure voice, often minded us. She had us singing and dancing scores from the films. We walk, run, and skip along the avenues, playing fields and dance on the forty steps. I smell primroses in spring and meadowsweet in summer and feel the movement of my feet in the leaves of autumn. My love for dancing is nurtured in Garbally Park. Books are my other essential company. They allow me to travel in time and space across centuries and countries. Books are my other essential company. They allow me travel in time and space across centuries and countries. 10

Dance is my way to be To touch the nature of death know it is not my time

In the 1990s I studied dance psychotherapy at the Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. I was introduced to Barbara Dilley, the originator of Contemplative Dance Practice. CDP brings together contemporary dance and Tibetan Buddhist practice to create a simple structure to work both artistically and creatively with the art of living. Her words and her movement connect with me. Drawing from Contemplative Dance, my own dance practice, Be Dance, evolved and took shape during the global Covid-19 pandemic in 2020–2021. With the world in lockdown, I explored options to be at home dancing with others in their home spaces across Ireland and internationally. Socially distanced explorations, Zoom sessions, podcasts, and online dance tutorials all evolved in response. Working via sound appeals to me. I asked Luke Clancy of Soundsdoable on board. We are all improvising, moving with the unknown, influenced by the unseen. This notebook publication includes background on the lead-up to my residency and evolution of current practice. It is an exhibit, an echo of this time. A route where restriction, resistance, and retreat rekindle the dance that matters: the dance of respect for relationship in the sacred web of being. Background and Partners Sharon O’Grady, County Galway arts officer, and Maeve Mulrennan, curator at Galway Arts Centre, invited me to develop a dance programme for people aged 50-plus, to be performed in the lovely library gallery converted from the Mercy Nuns’ private chapel known to me during my school days. During the winter of 2019–2020 I got off the train and walked to the Ballinasloe Library every Thursday to facilitate a dance programme for the group. It developed the title ‘Falling Softly’. This opportunity paved the way for a Galway Dance Artist Residency in 2020 funded by the Arts Council, partnering with city and county arts officers, Galway Dance Project, Galway Arts Centre, the Galway Public Libraries, and Dance Ireland. 11

Let my head clear, let me hear the easy whistle of the past. Bernadette Divilly

The mission statement of Galway Public Libraries reads, ‘Each of our libraries be a centre of light and learning in their locality’. Our libraries aim to bring people together, to encourage harmony and creativity, and to celebrate all of our diverse cultures. Here in Ballinasloe Library, we had hoped to fulfil these aims by hosting dance events with Galway’s Dance Artist in Residence in the Church Gallery. Due to the pandemic, this could not happen, so it was with great delight that Bernadette was able to adapt these experiences and bring them directly into people’s homes. A series of ‘Mind the Dance’ videos was posted and widely shared on the Galway Public Libraries YouTube and social media channels. The beautiful scores added joy and a sense of harmony and happiness to the experience. Building on this, our community of dancers and friends came together, whilst physically apart, through participation in the ‘Daily Dance Dates’ and ‘Meditative Practices’ programmes. This virtual library social space created a groundswell of togetherness, support, and community which was treasured by everyone who joined in. In particular, our beloved Women’s Group, which welcomes women of all ages from all around the world, was thrilled when Bernadette popped in via Zoom for focused creative sessions. The impact of this collaboration is significant, reaching out to everyone and especially to those who may have felt isolated and alone, creating a sense of bringing light, stillness, and movement to individuals and communities across Galway. Una Kelly Ballinasloe Library Europe Direct


Dance Art Lab - Dance Apart 2020/21 Contemplative Dance International I am different because you are here.

Barbara Dilley

In the 1960s and 1970s Barbara Dilley studied and performed dance in New York City. She was an artist with standing, who performed with Merce Cunningham and participated in Grand Union. In Barbara’s own words she comes from the two very disciplined streams of contemporary dance and Dharma Art. In 1974 she joined Naropa University, where she established a dance movement studies programme and later became president of the Buddhist- and artist-led university between 1985 and 1993. In January 2020, I returned to Boulder to attend Dance Art Lab at Naropa where Barbara Dilley agreed to an interview with me. I am keen to share Barbara's presence and voice with the group and others in Ireland. Barbara’s Contemplative Dance is about improvisation and meditation. She talks a lot about the significance of influence: how we influence each other, how we recognise it, and in recognising it we can choose how to use it or how to drop it. That is an important element in the work of the dance ensemble. ‘I am different because you are here’ is something Barbara regularly shares with students. In the interview Barbara recollects how body-mind practices evolved since the 1970s and her engagement with this evolution. She stresses ‘translation’ is essential for knowledge to be shared and acknowledges the role of her Buddhist teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in developing this understanding. The 30-minute interview can be found online at:


L ist en i ng In between three moving bodies decades are dancing Snow melting sounds Softing my grief In the meditation hall and the studio Listen to high winds moving autumn dry leaves tossed from towering trees echoing the waves of an Atlantic Sea Bernadette Divilly 2021

For me, Contemplative Dance Practice has one through line, and that is joy. I have found the deepest centres in myself within this practice. It feels like returning to the well, drinking from these waters, and being made anew. A group of us retreat together once or twice a year. It is during these retreats that everything seems to pop. We have more time to drop in to meditative mind as well as nourish our creative selves during personal awareness practice and sacred napping. Our open space practice seems to expand. Open space is where we reach to the outer limits of what is possible. My creativity seems to come alive in a way that surprises me. I may draw or write or dance or interact or rest or watch as a well wisher and I notice the magic of life, the majesty of the dance and the depths of our inter-connected souls. Mary-L. Bevington, MFA Naropa, dance activist


I was first introduced to Contemplative Dance Practice (CDP) by its founder, Barbara Dilley, in 1984. CDP became my deepest influence in dance and in life, a way of life and a way of seeing and being. But the lack of an ongoing practice community motivated me to create one while I was faculty at Naropa University in 2000, and I’m still holding it to this day.

People are drawn to Contemplative Dance Practice for the same reasons I was: to integrate body and mind alone and with others in a creative, grounded, and spontaneous way, and to gently recognise the mind’s judgements and, in the words of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, ‘drop bias like a hot potato’. I was taken by the quality of the communities that practiced CDP together and began travelling to join CDP communities in Seattle (Vashon Island) and Athens and also to connect with practices in Michigan, Arizona (Prescott), and Ireland (Galway). The realisation that we all had so much to learn from each other motivated me to help organise the first International CDP practice day in 2018. I have continued to organise this event each year, and in 2021 it became an engaging week-long online event. I am blessed to be in this global CDP community and to personally have this regular practice to feed my heart, soul, and body in the most wonderful and unexpected ways. Darlene Lorrain Naropa University, CDP facilitator

Bringing what’s behind us into the present moment.


I really enjoyed the Waves and Particles workshop as part of International Contemplative Dance Week.

It was incredible to be able to connect and dance with people from so many different places and countries. In my break-out room I was able to chat with a lady from Boulder, Colorado, among others and hear of their dance experience. I really thought it was unbelievable to be able to dance together while being so far apart. Isolation has been a very real by-product of this scary pandemic. As I live in rural County Galway, your classes have really benefited me. I never imagined I would still be dancing in my seventies, but you really made it easy for me and I'm sure for the other participants. My standout memory would have to be the St. Brigid’s Day class 2020 that was held in the beautiful Gallery in Ballinasloe Library. The way Bernadette incorporated her Brat-Bhríde with the significant items other group members brought us and then led us into a beautiful dance. Yours sincerely, Phil Lally, Falling Softly, group member and participant


I am waiting. Listening. I am drawn out. I am reaching. I am being pulled. Reaching. Being pulled. I am curious. I am disoriented. I re-orient. I am with you. You are with me. Anna Fiona Keogh Dance Dates Wave 2 participant

Dance Dates As relationships adapt and change in order to cope with the menace of a contagious airborne virus, dance professionals have to shift from studios and centres to working online and over the airwaves. For me this includes going on national radio and being interviewed by local papers in an effort to stimulate curiosity and engagement as I develop new structures to support dancing alone and together. My focus initially is on older adults, but as I go more public on various media platforms a diverse community, in terms of age, backgrounds, and cultures, expresses interest in my 9-minute Dance Dates. In the dance world, we create in various formats: solos, duets, quartets, and larger ensembles. I invite participants to ask another person on board and share 9 minutes together on the phone. We then progress to work with three or four people on WhatsApp. Orientation sessions and classes using Zoom and video tutorials are made available. Group sizes vary between 10 and 45 and are locally organised by Galway Dance Project, Ballinasloe Library, and Galway Arts Centre and with our international contemplative dance community. Dance Dates provide a route to research and learn about being present in the moment, engaging our power, and anchoring our awareness in physical place. They are an integral part of my dance work, and they are rooted in meditation and improvisation principles and practices from CDP. Essential in all of this is relationship. At the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, I set up a series of research dates with different people to investigate dancing mindfully through the pandemic. I had the idea to do this using radio, phone, WhatsApp, and podcasts. Dance Dates included working one-to-one and with small groups for dates as brief as 9 minutes or as long as 30 minutes. Each Dance Date has three parts: meditation, movement, and creativity in relationship. They are designed to support regulation of stress and ease in the face of dancing without direct contact. There are four waves of Dance Dates, corresponding to the four waves of the pandemic between 2020 and 2021. They influence and inform each other. They began with the Ballinasloe Library Group in November 2020, for the 50-plus age group, held online. This was followed in March 2021 by International Contemplative Dance Community for all ages, also held online. In June 2021 we organised our third Dance Dates with Galway Arts Centre, for all ages and held online. The final one was held in November 2021, organised by Be Dance Art Lab Ireland in partnership with Galway Libraries, Galway Arts Centre, and Galway Dance Project.

4 waves 19

Da n c e D a tes C re ati ve Exc han ges The following are excerpts from and responses to the first three waves of Dance Dates.

The hum of autumn I want to scuff the leaves And hear the crunching underfoot A canopy of trees overhead A single leaf falls Like a snowflake Suddenly I want to lie On those leaves And make angel shapes I can never call this season The Fall To me it will always be autumn I like the hum of the autumn word And the whisper of leaves caressing the ground Bernadette McGuire, Ballinasloe Library Women’s Group

The oak speaks Through dappled leaves the sun shines down upon my brimmed hat And my body leans into the chair. The oak speaks it’s own alignment, Tall, erect with wide-brimmed hat of many leaves Offering shelter and shade to the lower part of the garden. I sit facing her Aware of her might. Flanked by iris and yellow flowers to my right, pink roses to my left I sit among. Invited to touch the landscape of my own skin, I notice the crinkles, bumpy skin of you, dear oak And move toward you. There is a need for clearing, cleaning and purification As I pull off the now twisted bark of the old ivy, Already cleared away, brown patches in your skin are revealed, a youth and tenderness exposed. And I feel the need to lighten my own load too Be done with all the unnecessary baggage Find my rootedness in a new way. I bow my head to your teaching and my hat falls off Opening my crown to the sun as yours is too. My mind settles, sound becomes clearer and I sit, dishevelled like you, overseen, witnessed, sheltered by your mighty presence. Therese O’Driscoll, An Talamh, Sligo Eco Movement and research colleague

Walking in Garbally Park


Soundwaves On this drizzling wet morning You drop your fingers and breath travel across the sheets of music leaning in soundwaves vibrating between Galway county and city In the woods a woman walks While I slither and slide rising and falling from a wooden floor supported by my woollen socks gathering momentum as I drop Until I am running on the spot momentum gathering Transitioning. Bernadette Divilly 2020

Sharon Murphy, musician

C ov i d D a nce Dates Win te r 2 0 20 It’s Covid-19 time, and we’re not travelling more than 5 km from home. Heading into winter. Contact is more important than ever right now. 6.30 a.m. and we meet on the phone for around 10 minutes. Berni’s is the first voice I hear in the day, a quick check-in then straight to the music and the dance. I play what comes to hand, a piece I’m getting to know, or one we’re familiar with. The names are resonant: ‘Two Trees’, ‘Inizio’… There’s no plan, no perfecting; whatever’s there in the moment. I hear her steps as I play… she waits as I turn the page. 6.40 a.m. and a Zoom call for me; we finish and move into the day… Clare Sawell Artist/musician Dance Dates research


I combined yoga therapy and your permission to dance freely and expressively.

I was ill last year and needed chemo and radiotherapy. My yoga therapy helped me to breathe in healing light. Your dance helped me to open my being to the sway of the great ash tree, to the ripple of the lake and to the birdsong. Thank you. Holly Mullarkey Dance Dates Wave 3 participant

Dynamic stillness Wrapped in a blanket of tenderness.

Releasing tension In my upper body whilst remaining grounded and supported.

Relationship Hands at my heart, shaped in a cup. Holding what is precious, releasing what needs to go and allowing what needs to come. Lisa Berry Dance Dates Wave 3 participant


I realise that my mind has been moving, endlessly, relentlessly at the endless possibilities. I lay by the window to wonder, movements of my body as a means of claiming space. I tried to imagine if I able-bodied, momentarily disabled, could relate. To the notion of being paralysed by the realisation of the truth.

Chinedum Mutto Artist, Dance Dates research

Infinite sky, shooting stars above I held my Mother’s hand in mine As we stood like two children ‘Neath the Milky Way Our eyes and our souls Wide open to it all...

Trick Dance Dates Wave 3 participant


Across the Generations I hadn’t noticed that I was standing under an oak tree, because it didn’t occur to me to look. I felt a resistance to the trees initially, an irritation almost. It was how impassive and still they appeared. I wanted to shake the branches to encourage the droplets to fall on an evening it rained. The process, I felt, was happening too slowly. A wise voice told me to wait, to allow the water to fall in its own time. I like to think the trees were speaking. Sometimes I worry for the future – that is, the future of the planet and our collective mental health. The society we live in is often very demanding, especially on the body. As a woman in my early twenties, I have not yet learned how to separate myself fully from the thoughts, values, and opinions of other people. The constancy of this pressure, which pertains to life’s ‘should’, is exhausting for me. The more time I spend on my phone or laptop planning a life, the more disengaged I become with my body and the space that it is in. I do not like this. Although there are years between us there was an understanding in our dance, as there is between all things when given the invitation and space. I will miss our Dance Dates as they were, but I am excited to see what they become as our bodies continue in their dialogue with time, space, and each other. ‘The future’ is a promising word, full of progress and heights. It is the past and present, however, that inform how we move. A tree knows this, carrying time graciously in its rings, and moving with the weather. Roisín Tyrrell Dance Dates Wave 3 participant


Mind the Dance How do I mind the dance in and out of lockdowns? I focus on:

Transition Basic Practice Waves of Connection Composition I created four video tutorials to be distributed through the public libraries. The material was recorded in Shawbrook Dance during a residency in 2020 with Kristyn Fontanella, dance artist, and Maria Gibbons, videographer. These were designed for complete beginners and welcomed particularly the 50-plus age-groups across different cultural contexts. Mind the Dance continues to evolve towards training for professional dancers interested in working with arts participation with diverse communities.

My work with Bernadette is based on trust. I trust she knows what she's doing and she trusts I will give her what she wants. It's a challenging and fun way to work. Maria Gibbons Videographer


Dance Artist in Residence Bernadette Divilly’s Dance Artist Residency, funded by the Arts Council and in cooperation with Galway City and County Councils and Galway Dance Project, resulted in a high-quality programme of dance events, workshops, talks, and connections which sustained and enhanced professional dance practice in Galway city and county.

The international element of Bernadette’s programme was highly impressive and effective, connecting Galway/west of Ireland-based dance artists with practitioners from Boulder, Colorado, and other parts of the U.S., Greece, Cyprus, Spain, and England. Bernadette’s programme connected professional dance artists with members of our community who are not professional artists, but who engage with dance from an arts and health perspective. This was very successful and built on a strong engagement which Bernadette has cultivated over a number of years with participants in Galway. Due to Covid-19, much of the programme was moved online, though we did manage to include one in-person event in September 2020 before restrictions were brought in again. Engagement online was very high, with the Winter Solstice and Waves of Connection online workshops proving very popular and attracting both Irish-based and international artists. This Dance Artist in Residence scheme operated during the pandemic, displaying resilience and adaptability. It shows how well these kinds of programmes can work, when local organisations and local authorities cooperate with artists to deliver high-quality dance activity and professional development opportunities. Galway Dance Project is continuing our conversation with Bernadette on how to build on the work we have done together. Jill Murray Manager, Galway Dance Project

resilience and adaptability 28

Working with Bernadette Divilly over the past year has been nothing but a joyful experience. I have learnt about her and her work, and how I can assist within it – which has led me to discover and reflect on my own creative practice. As a result, I have found the importance of time: time to settle, time to respond or not, time to move or not move. Putting focus on the body in space and clearing my head of any preconceived thoughts or ways of moving; identify, accept, and release into the place and people around me, to then move within it. Kristyn Fontanella Dance artist and arts production support

My journey with Bernadette began through a series of exchanges around a liminal space. While we come from very different practices, mine as a sound recordist, the core to both of our processes is to listen. This has led to this journey of listening to trees. It is as if we are eavesdropping on these immense guardians of the landscapes and finally tuning in to the heartbeat of the earth. Anne Marie Deacy Sound artist

the heartbeat of the earth 29

Transition Transition is about exploring ordinary events through awareness of movement as experienced in our bodies as part of our developmental journey. We also experience transitioning through daily cycles (dusk to dawn, dawn to dusk) and seasonal cycles (winter, spring, summer, autumn). I take my starting point from four basic postures of mindfulness: lying, sitting, standing, and walking. We begin by exploring what it is to transition through these ordinary everyday actions, rising from bed, standing our ground, motoring through our days, and sitting. But the organisation that happens between these is full of dynamic dance, replicates our earliest developmental patterns, and continues as we move through each stage of life, as well as each stage of the day and the seasons. To be alive is to be in a constant state of motion, even in rest. In transitions we study and play and mobilise.

Basic Practice Basic Practice is about the form of Contemplative Dance and supports solo and group participation. Based on Barbara Dilley’s contemplative dance, it involves meditation, personal awareness, and open space. This practice can be adapted for Dance Dates with one or two others.

Waves of Connection Waves of Connection is influenced by quantum field theory. In developing workshops that invite us to be well while moving through cultural challenges and mindsets, I focus on relationships in the natural world. I’m influenced by Barbara Dilley’s integration of improvisation, body/mind practices, and Buddhism. I’m also informed by Nancy Stark Smith’s Contact Underscore theory and practice, and by Karen Barad’s feminist and theoretical-physics agential realism and intra-action. Waves of Connection is a movement practice I am developing through improvisation and adaptation to form and letting it go, softening our boundaries, making them more wavelike. I began researching it in 2018 after reading a conversation between Barbara Dilley and Nancy Stark Smith about their work. I like to sometimes think of it in terms of the language of physics: I’m a particle, I’m somebody, and then I’m a wave – I’m fluid, not fixed – and then I become a particle again. We experience this in dancing states all the time. Barbara Dilley Contact Quarterly 2017

Stillpoint in the waves Marian Dunlea

A Group Process

Inviting a shift from the individual closed-in place of my own thoughts and preoccupations to a communal space that reveals the unexpected, both personal and collective... The beating of the metal outside in the street Danced me in a drumming rhythm that echoed in the chambers of collective memory in my bones and tissue… I was walking the path of ancestors, past and present – global evictions, migrations, emigration, a communal experience in the shared space with movers from four corners of the world. Marian Dunlea Waves of Connection, Druid Theatre, September 2020

Composition Composition is the study of perception and play, how we focus our attention and create meaning. It involves dance-making and working with boundaries. Composition has a beginning, middle, and end. It is a bit like our lifespan. We are always freefalling into finding a beginning, a starting point, a development point, and an ending point. The ending is the ultimate composition.


Ending At mass in Saint Michael’s in the 1960s, I projected my body upwards towards the high arched ceiling with a background of stained-glass windows. I imagined dancing, rising from my sad places to a chorus of prayers. I daydreamed my moves and felt them in my mind, making me happy even when being still was a requirement. My voice was silent but the music I felt inside. Nobody noticed, but I was dancing. Be Dance Composition is inviting new ways to work with composition that is engaging the sound of our hearts, movement, touch, and most importantly, awareness of relationship even in times of being alone. We are never alone really if we listen to the world and all pulsating sentient life. In late 2021, with additional support from sound artist Ann Marie Deacy and ongoing support from Luke Clancy, we created podcasts and sound installations for dancing. These are now available from my website and from Galway libraries. The ending of the project involves acknowledgement of the Dance Artist Residency and its legacy, a celebration of what got to be composed and will compost. There is a professional development for dancers introducing them to Be Dance, and there is the launch of this publication that involves dancing with the trees.



This book is for the many people I encountered during my residency, those directly involved and those who supported the project. I am most grateful for the opportunity given to me in the Dance Artist Residency. This was funded by the Arts Council in partnership with Galway City and County arts offices, in collaboration with Ballinasloe Library, Galway Dance Project, Dance Ireland, Dance Art Lab, Contemplative Dance Practice International, Soundsdoable, Galway Rural Development, and Shawbrook Dance Residency, and with support from Galway Arts Centre. I would like to mention, in particular, James Harrold and Deirdre Headd of Galway City Council, Sharon O’Grady of Galway County Council, Una Kelly of Ballinasloe Library Europe Direct, Mairead Carney of Galway Rural Development, and Tara O’Connor and Siobhán Singleton of Galway Arts Centre. I thank the people who engaged with the residency in seen and unseen ways, because care and creativity matter in the final composition. Gratitude to those arts minders, administrators, visionary friends, and beloved kinships that are beside me and made this book possible. The ancestors were always at my back, and the young were in sight for all of this residency. Let me mention particularly those whose influence I know is essential. Thank you, Barbara Dilley and my Naropa education. Gratitude to my friend and collaborator, Maria Gibbons. To Trick, who never gives up on me as a pioneer dance artist. Sharon Murphy, musician, activist, and my beloved partner and friend without whose support this book could not happen. Gratitude to Clair O’Brien, arts administrator, Galway Arts Centre, who helped shape the book. To my dear friends Mary Ruddy and Vincent Murphy, of Artisan House, Connemara, for the creation, editing and design of this hardback special limited-edition book. My thanks to Stan Carey for his careful and sensitive copy-editing. To the participants who contributed to the residency and for agreeing to share their creative responses: Phil Lally, Anna Fiona Keogh, Bernadette McGuire, Clare Sawell, Holly Mullarkey, Lisa Berry, Chinedum Mutto, Trick, and Roisín Tyrrell. I am indebted to Marian Dunlea, Therese O’Driscoll, and Joan Davis, for our collective conversations on how to stay embodied and meet online and stay in the landscape. The Contemplative Dance Practice International and Dance Art Lab were an inspiration and support, and I wish to thank Darlene Lorrain, David Silver, and Mary-L. Bevington for their work, hospitality, and kinships. The visuals in this book were kindly provided by David Silver, Laura Griffin, Joe O’Shaughnessy, Tess Peters, Maria Gibbons, Anita Murphy, Úna Spain, Esti Stiles, and Marian Dunlea. My thanks to Luke Clancy, of Soundsdoable and Lyric FM, and Anne Marie Deacy for podcast and field recordings, and to Sharon Murphy for music on videos. A big thanks to Kristyn Fontanella for production support. An unexpected gift of this residency was my reacquaintance with my home town and with Garbally Park, its trees with its wonderful oaks. I thank Garbally Park guardian Colm Allman, my sister, Jacinta Divilly, and her son, Ben Feehily.


Published by Bernadette Divilly 2021 ISBN 9781912465118

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Photography Anita Murphy Front & back cover, p1, 2, 4, 6, 8,16, 18, 23 David Silver p13, 14, 15, 17 Images taken in Naropa University, Boulder, CA Maria Gibbons p29, 30, 31, 34 Images taken in Shawbrook Dance, Co Longford Kevin McNicholas p17 centre image Úna Spain p11, 20 Joe O’Shaughnessy p22 Esti Stiles p32, 33 Images taken in Druid Theatre, Galway Holly Mullarkey p23 Laura Griffin, Soft Day Media p12 Kristyn Fontanella p27 Marian Dunlea p32



In the heart of C




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Therese O’Driscoll p12


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In the heart of C

Designed by Vincent Murphy Edited by Mary Ruddy Copy-edited by Stan Carey Artisan House Publishing Letterfrack, Connemara, Co Galway Printed by Imago


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In the heart of C

G al w a y D a n c e A rti st R esi denc y September 2020 - December 2021

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