Dublin Dance Festival: Under the skin

Fearghus Ó Conchúir lets his body do the talking in his new performance for Dublin Dance Festival


Project, Space Upstairs

Fearghus Ó Conchúir puts his own eloquent body firmly on the line in this exposing, sometimes moving journey from fall to recovery. We are absorbed by his hugely focused presence and arresting movement, each small gesture carefully controlled, each flexing muscle intimating a small step forwards or even sideways on the road to healing.

This new work was created for him by six collaborators from his last work, Tabernacle , which explored the impact of religious iconography on the body. Here it is the breakdown and injury to the body itself that is in focus: bruised and vulnerable, a metaphor too for a body politic, as collapse comes in many forms, political, economic, and personal. It is appropriate in a way that the piece has a carefully styled workshop feel to it, for cure and recovery is a process in itself and fine tuning may happen here, too.

With his wonderfully articulate body , Ó Conchúir intimates the many ways we seek to restore equilibrium after a fall; often between the internal and external, personal and public. Ó Conchúir symbolically uses these geometric shapes to explore the relationship of the body with space in tandem with Bernadette Iglich ’s magnetic film backdrop of crowded city streets with people walking, never connecting, always in motion.

He takes us from the movement of t’ai chi, to group therapy to more elemental healing rituals. He strips away his clothes to find solace in sheer physicality but then dresses again as anxiety fades. For the body is not always ready to be cured; i t can be riven with hidden histories, and success can be followed by failure as loss is followed by discovery. Here, the choreography and performance magically meld; Ó Conchúir , interrogating his own naked body close up, a pile of blankets deployed to shield and veil the fragility and fear. Expansive movements are suddenly retracted, the inhalation of breath accelerates and Ó Conchúir is curled and huddled, knees clenched, muscles trembling, awaiting a release.

An imagined group session quickly morphs into an arena of frustration as his body tautens, and he stands, muscles pumping , the aggression rising as his fists clench and his body vibrates. But redemption is at hand, a note of hope is signalled as he finally discovers and embraces a sheath of cloth, which then clothes him like a second skin.
Run concluded