Fearghus Ó Conchúir Choreographer and Dance Artist
September 11, 2018

Dancing with Annie Hanauer: Walthamstow Wetlands Residency

Screenshot_20180720-184206I’d seen Annie Hanauer perform and knew her energy and articulate physicality up close from having been in class with her, but it wasn’t until I saw her dancing in Emmauel Gat’s ‘Sunny’ at the Dublin Dance Festival that we had a chance to talk.  And from that conversation, I knew I’d want to dance with her some more.  I’ve never held an audition, so it’s mostly through these encounters that I’ve been able to work with the dance artists I have.  The Wetlands residency has given me an opportunity to extend hospitality to others, and to have a framework within which to try out new creative relationships and that’s what I did with Annie.  Of course, I felt I had to explain that there was no conventional dance studio, that we would be outdoors, that we would be public all the time and that all of that would be exciting and artistically nourishing, and surprisingly tiring, demanding a different kind of physicality and presence to what one might usually use in a studio.  Fortunately, Annie didn’t need to be convinced at all and was happy to join me in inserting dance into the spaces available to us on the Wetlands.

20180719_111548It was particularly useful for me to have to explain to someone else the process of working I use and take for granted in my dancing on the Wetlands.  This has less to do with how to move than where to put one’s attention, to notice the external/internal stimuli and impulses that might then manifest as movement or transformations of our bodies.  And it was such a pleasure to be able to share the  work with such a receptive and intelligent movement expert.


Here’s a long dance we made on the slope of Lockwood Reservoir.  It goes from being a solo, to a duet, to a quintet when young men happen on us.  In fact it’s a symphony of sensations and references, human and non-human that animate our interaction.  We are dancing  interdependence


July 23, 2018

MicroRainbow: Walthamstow Wetlands Residency


I’ve been aware from the outset that the Wetlands is a sanctuary and a refuge, for humans and non-humans, for anglers and walkers and parents and choreographers and, not least, a place for migrant birds.  It’s made sense to me therefore to connect my dance workshops for MicroRainbow International (an organisation that works globally to end LGBTI poverty and, in the UK, focuses its activities on supporting LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers) to this residency.  It’s partly about seeing the residency as an opportunity to host people, to share the privilege of my time in this beautiful location and also to ensure that the kind of public that benefits from the Wetlands is as inclusive as possible.


This week we hosted the second of our MicroRainbow dance workshops on the Wetlands,  thanks to the generosity of the Wetlands team (especially Ada and Ralph who’ve given free time to guide us around the site) and to Wilsons LLP, a law firm in nearby Tottenham that has sponsored the travel expenses of the participants (it’s not enough to offer a free workshop to foster inclusion if people can’t afford to get to it).


It was great to be able to share the beauty of the Wetlands in the evening sunshine, to see people relax and appreciate air and space, to see people enjoying friendship. It underlined to me again how choreography can also be developed by attending to the circumstances to which bodies are exposed.  And, as a result, I’ve been trying to work through the residency as a kind of choreography, a performance of the kind of relationships and exchanges between diverse human and non-human bodies I’d like to support in the world.

Here are some of the photos that Ralph Hanus took of the event:

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July 23, 2018

Footpath closed: Walthamstow Wetlands Residency

As I’ve noted before, the Wetlands’ site is a working reservoir as well as being a nature reserve and, of course, now, a dance ‘studio’.  For all my talk of the necessity of quietness in my choreographic relationship with the site, it’s also apparent that there are moments of noisy, energetic intervention.  This video sketch shows that it’s not only the non-human wildlife that influences how I can move around:  this footpath is closed because of Thames Water work on one of the reservoirs.  Though you can’t here the drilling in so loudly, you can catch a glimpse of the loud orange-uniformed workers through the fencing, as well as the ducks getting on with their bobbing in the adjacent water.

The next week, I saw a group of school children singing loudly and enthusiastically on the same footpath.  I don’t know for sure but they look like children from a school in Stamford Hill’s Orthodox Jewish community on the other side of the canal from the Wetlands but easily accessible across the Hackney Marshes.  There’s something very beautiful about the young voices singing to the expanse of water.  The birds can be just as noisy and it confirms again that quietness isn’t the only possible response to the Wetlands.

July 23, 2018

Trump Flies Over: Wetlands Residency

I was working outdoors on the Lockwood Reservoir when instead of the usual bird-life passing over, I noticed a big black helicopter buzzing from the horizon.   Flanked by other smaller helicopters, it was ominously heavy in the sky and I decided to try my dance in relation to it.  I later discovered that the helicopter was carrying Trump from Stansted to central London.