Emma Meehan

Ethics of Care in Revisiting The Archives of Dublin Contemporary Dance Theatre


This paper explores a practice-based research project to revisit and develop sections from 'Lunar Parables' (1983) choreographed by Sara and Jerry Pearson with Dublin Contemporary Dance Theatre (DCDT). Thirty years after the production, I have been working in the studio with the original dancers and company members to revisit sections of this work, to remember its content and context. We also have been reflecting on how past choreographic approaches inform current practices and how the material can also inspire new perspectives, ideas and dance material. This has raised personal difficulties around revisiting their archives, and I draw on Eddy’s (2015, abstract) question of ‘what is the legacy to be remembered, and in what form, by whom?’ An ethics of care and responsibility has also emerged within my own role in relation to the legacy of DCDT, aligned with how Roms (2012, 48) ‘reconceive[s] of the archives as a collaborative effort of caring for an artist’s legacy.’ In responding to Kershaw’s (2009, 15) argument for practice-as-research to have a ‘democratically deconstructive and decentering agenda’, I explore the process of working collaboratively with the dancers and choreographer in this project and the methods we employ in examining the work. There are issues around my role in instigating the project, the funding available and how it is allocated, who is included and excluded in revisiting the work, and finally questions around who is framing, writing about and accessing the materials such as video footage which emerges from behind the closed doors of the rehearsal room. 



Eddy, Martha (2015) ‘Early Trends: Where Soma and Dance Began to Meet – Keeping the Meeting Alive’, in Sarah Whatley, Natalie Garrett Brown and Kirsty Alexander (eds) Attending to Movement: Somatic perspectives on living in this world. Axminister: Triarchy Press.

Kershaw, Baz (2009) Practice-as-Research in Performance and Screen. 

Roms, Heike (2012) ‘Archiving Legacies: Who Cares for Performance Remains?’, in Gunhild Borgreen and Rune Gade (eds) Performing Archives/ Archives of Performance, Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press; University of Copenhagen.

Schneider, Rebecca (2011). Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment. London and New York: Routledge.

Email Contact: emma.meehan@coventry.ac.uk