We’ve premiered Butterflies and Bones, a new stage show in London, brought together academics and artists for symposia in Maynooth and at the British Library, and we’ve been doing workshops with refugees and asylum seekers in London and in Dublin. But we’re hardly halfway through The Casement Project.
On 23 July, Féile Fáilte, our day of dance on Banna Strand to celebrate a nation that can dance in welcome of the stranger, is followed by a two-day shoot for the film we’re making with Dearbhla Walsh for broadcast on RTÉ in the Autumn.
At the beginning of August we’re doing A Wake for Casement as a club night in Kilkenny Arts Festival. Soon after, we present part of Butterflies and Bones in Dusseldorf, before bringing the full show to Belfast and to Project Arts Centre in Dublin in October.
We’ll continue to work on engagement activities, particularly with LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland and in the UK, as well as publishing a book on Bodies Politic from the symposia. It’s a lot of activity.
Fearghus Ó Conchúir, artistic director and choreographer, The Casement Project. Photographer: Ste Murray.
What is consistent throughout - and what helps me and the rest of the team carry it forward - is a commitment to use Roger Casement’s complicated legacy as a resource for helping us to think today about a collective body that can be inclusive, comfortable with its own delightful and surprising strangeness as well as with the stranger that needs our support. National and international events remind me how important that aspiration is and why I’m committed to dance as a way to figure out how I can join with others in fulfilling that hope.
Usually after a premiere, I get time to reflect, and also time to pause, but the ambition of The Casement Project carries me forward to the next and the next element. When I conceived of this project, it was important for me to show what dance could do when given the resources to demonstrate its potential. The variety of activities happening across different countries and different platforms is a deliberate attempt to reach as many people as possible, particularly those who might not feel comfortable or inclined to attend a contemporary dance performance in a theatre.
This is the kind of activity that I and other dance artists do all the time, but the unprecedented investment that the Arts Council has made in The Casement Project, as one of the Open Call National Projects in ART:2016, has given me an opportunity to make visible what I’ve wanted to communicate on a scale and over a time frame that was never possible before.
The Casement Project. Photographer: Matthew Thompson.
I’m hugely grateful for that financial investment and the trust in me and in dance that it implies. The Arts Council’s willingness to champion the vision and values of artists has been clear to me and great appreciated. This kind of investment not only enables me, and other artists, to develop a project of this ambition. It also means that we are able to build local, national and international partnerships that connect art to the lives of many different people, in many different ways, demonstrating at home and abroad the value of creative talent from Ireland when it is resourced to be part of everyone’s lives.