project image
Tara Jane O'Neil

first performed on February 01, 2020
Pieter Performance Space
performed once in 2020


Original score performed by Kathleen Kim, Lighting by Miles Brenninkmeijer

San Francisco, CA / Landers, CA


What is a somatic approach to traditional and contemporary Irish dance? How may we use this dance to approach and embody a mundane yet radical queerness?

“MARY, GOD OF JESUS” was a tool for focus and production in the ongoing development of our collaborative studio practice, an event to share a chunk of our Materiality with our community. It was shared in the space in which it was conceived and birthed and sustained.

Our performance happened on St. Brigid’s feast day, which is also the Imolc, or the first day of Spring in Gaelic tradition, upon which the Church pressed its stamp. St. Brigid is sometimes referred to as Mary of the Gael.

Composed of three dances—“Enter the Room,” “sanpush,” and “Delicate Perversion (babble)”—“MARY, GOD OF JESUS” began with a rigorous and sustained choreographed stepping and skipping pattern, our pathways formed by the unique architecture of our studio-stage-dance hall. A slow erosion of the rigidity of our movement brought us into a softer form and a freer body, beginning with the release of our spines and attention to our internal fluids. An open score focused on partnering—a “two hand,” it’s called—raised our arms and brought us into embrace, our feet flat on the ground, as we defied the normatively gendered positions our traditional form is produced through. Velocity gave way to stillness, choreography dissolved into improvisation, and we danced into unknowingness, weaving and braiding and unfurling into undone Catholicism, or was it Paganism.

The lineage of our Irishness was pulled in and through and out the vibrational body strings of musician Kathleen Kim, the drawstrings of our costumes whose Baptismal names were The Beasts, and the souls of our ancestors. The Beasts united us into One Body, conjoining and separating as we hurtled across and around the room, generating wind and brushing up against our viewers, who surrounded us on all sides. 104bpm.

We danced with precision and wonder, a mutual need to find joy in moving across the floor, in pointing our toes, and in returning to this rigid Irish form, but as snakes.

*Our practice is in hibernation due to the pandemic. Gone is the space which brought this work into being (Pieter) and gone are we from the city we shared (Los Angeles). We want to dance together again.