Dance: Fiona Quilligan – Tree Dance

Last week we brought you the Choreographer Fiona Quilligan’s beautiful dance, her creative response to Covid 19. Today Fiona outlines the research methods she deploys for new work:

“During the Noughties I became interested in social dances from different cultures and in particular from South America. My brother having spent time in Cuba opened a tapas bar called Havana off Camden Street and it attracted many Cuban and Argentinean dancers who worked behind the bar. They had an endless appetite for dancing which fascinated me. I started studying with them and engaging in their social dance evenings which was every night! I loved the natural freedom of the body moving to Cuban song beats where the tango seemed classical in its poise, something I was aware of from my ballet training.

Set in a circle of trees the first solo has something of a formal tango with a contemporary feel to it – controlled and sustained as I circle each between each tree while absorbing the texture of the yellow lichen.

While the duet danced by my sister Zelda Francesa, and Antonio shows the side swing of the hips of the Bachata showing the closeness of the couple’s interlocking legs and arms. The man gently unfolds the woman in a series of turns while keeping the rhythm.

Later this research led to a full-length work called Pas de Chat – a self-portrait -which told of my early influences and journeying in dance.

Autumn took a more upbeat tempo and I threw myself into a new work…picking up a step here and turning out one there, embracing Bachata rhythms and struggling with strangers in intimate holds, while chasing Abel’s footwork and a handful of Cuban dances by night.”   Fiona Quilligan