University of Limerick
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Decluttering the dance: an exploration of the choreographic practice

posted on 2023-11-09, 15:52 authored by Kelsey Jean Schuhle

This dissertation shows another side of Irish dancing outside of the competitive and commercial realm. It addresses the question: “what are the creative possibilities for an Irish dancer post-competition or post-show within the solo dance genre with a specific reflective examination on my own practice?” Through my research I am proposing a solo performance dance genre in which dancers may reflect on their own practice, display their virtuosity with a balance of simplicity and intricacy, and build pathways to continue their journey in Irish dance. I have explored my research topic through Arts Practice by delving into my choreographic process, focusing on decluttering the dance (i.e. creating dynamic between intricacy and simplicity).

I have conducted my research through both contextual and practice-based methods of research: autoethnography, personal narrative writing, pedagogy, journaling (reflective and reflexive), and semi-structured interviews. Alongside these methods, the bulk of my research derived from my two performances, both created for this PhD: “Seeking New Rhythms” and“ Tús Nua”

This research acknowledged that many artists would instinctively choose to play/dance/listen to more intricate pieces. However, when they experienced the balance between intricacy and simplicity they found the dynamic far more satisfying than unwavering complexity. The light and shade of a piece, coupled with pockets of stillness and silence were more interesting to both perform and watch or hear. Artists (from myriad genres), audience members, students, etc. agreed that the moments of stillness and silence gave the choreography time to breathe, and therefore be appreciated more so than if there was unbroken intricacy. This research contributes to the Irish dance field as dancers may better understand that there is another solo performance dance genre outside of the commercial or competitive realm. There is a performance dance genre, for solo dancers, in which one can display their virtuosic style through their own choreography, allowing the choreography to breathe, be appreciated, and be respected.



  • Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Orfhlaith Ní Bhriain

Second supervisor

Mats Melin

Third supervisor

Breandán de Gallaí

Department or School

  • Irish World Academy of Music & Dance

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