Choreography and Performance

Mary Nunan’s professional career began when she joined Dublin Contemporary Dance Theatre (1981-86).  This was Ireland’s first professional contemporary dance company.  She was founder Artistic Director of Daghdha Dance Company (1988-1999).

Throughout her career she has created a substantial body of critically acclaimed solo and ensemble choreographies that have been performed at national and international venues and festivals including: London (South Bank), Berlin (Podweil Theatre), Munich (Dance ’95), Paris (Pompidou Centre) and Guanajuato (Festival Cervantino), Mexico. The screen adaptation of her dance-theatre work ‘Territorial Claims’ was selected for screening at the Lincoln Centre’s Dance-for-Camera Festival in New York City.

She was a collaborative artist/ performer in a number of works choreographed by Yoshiko Chuma (2000-2003) when Yoshiko  was Artistic Director of Daghdha. She was member of the Maya Lila Collective, under the direction of Joan Davis (2002-15) and performed in ‘The Bell’s Shadow’ (2015) a feature length film directed by Mary Wycherley and Joan Davis.

Recent ensemble improvised performances include ‘Rewriting Distance’, (2016) with Lin Snelling and Guy Cools Cools and ‘Tilting’ (2018), with Isabella Oberlander and Mary Wycherley: the latter premiered at LCGA and toured to RHA Dublin.

Mary has developed a number of projects in collaboration with theatre practitioner and community activist Monica Spencer. These include ‘Starting with T’ (2014) and ‘Open O’ (2015)

Throughout her career she has choreographed  and performed a number of solo choreographies most recently  ‘The Movement’ was commissioned as part of her activities as Bealtaine national dance-artist in residence in 2107.

Dance for Camera

In 1997 Mary collaborated with film director, Donal Haughey to produce a screen adaptation of her dance theatre work “Territorial Claims”. This film was selected for screening at the Lincoln Center’s Dance for Camera Festival in New York City. Most recently she collaborated with dance artist Mary Wycherely to produce two films  “ HaH” (2010) and ‘Starting with T’ (2014)  Jurgen Simpson composed the music for both films.

Work in Academia

Mary was appointed the first Course Director of the MA Contemporary Dance Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick (1999-2016). She was a visiting guest tutor at the Royal College of Art, London (2016 -17).


In developing her current approach to teaching Mary has distilled principles and practices drawn from a range of sources, including post-modern release-based techniques, the Erick Hawkins contemporary dance technique, the Somatic practices of Body-Mind Centering and Authentic Movement, Yoga and meditation all of which she has been studying for the past 30 years and which have informed her development as a performer and choreographer.


Other residences include 2002 a choreographic development residency, under the mentorship of Peter Bonham, with his professional dance company Le Groupe in Ottawa, Canada. Carlsbad Arts Office, Carlsbad, California, 1997,Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique and de Danse, Lyon, France, 1996


From 200-2003 Mary was co-director, together with Yoshiko Chuma of White Space. Together they co-curated of a series of events (workshops/symposia), in Limerick. Featured guest artists included Steve Paxton (US) Lisa Nelson (US) Yvonne Rainer (US) and Rosemary Butcher (UK).  In 2010 she was invited, by Dance Ireland, to curate an event entitled “Why Solo So?”. This event  which took place in Dance House in Dublin was presented under the umbrella of Modul-Dance ( a 4-year EU sponsored project involving 22 dance houses and media partners in Europe)

Practice-based research

PhD:  “Sensation, Surface, Space” (distilling a mixed-mode heuristic to make the process of inventing original choreographic works more transparent)” Awarded 2013:  at Middlesex University, in the UK. Supervisor Prof. Susan Melrose.

Conference presentations include,  “Sensation , Surface, Space”, at Arts Research: The State of Play, and international conference held at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin ( 2008)

“Dancing about Writing”, co-presented, with Prof. Jane Edwards at the Shannon Consortioum Symposium, UL. (2007)

“Why Did the Choreographer Cross the Road? Undertaking practice as research in a new context”  Dance Research Forum Ireland’s 1st international conference, At the Crossroads, University of Limerick 2006.

Other Professional Activities

Board of Directors, Belltable Arts Centre,                               1989-1999

Board of Directors, Siamsa Tire,                                                  1998-2002

Board of Director, International Dance Festival for Ireland ,     2001-2003

Governing Body Limerick Institute of Technology                            1999-2003

Irish Festival in China Steering Committee                                         2002-2004

Member of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaoin                       2003-2008

Chair of Art’s Council Special Committee (Arts and Education)  2007-2008

(The report of the Special Committee, “Points of Alignment”, was published in 2008)