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Emma O'Kane Faun Photo: Pat Redmond
Emma O'Kane Bursary


The Emma O’Kane Bursary is a new award for independent artists who want to think beyond the boundaries of their art form and practice and to explore dance or a physical language in their work.  It honours the exceptional ethos and artistic practice of artist Emma O’Kane who died in 2021.


Emma O'Kane was an exceptionally gifted artist who moved effortlessly across artforms and media as a performer, a choreographer and a participation project leader. She was passionate, professional and highly articulate about interdisciplinary performance, holding a first-class honours degree in Contemporary Dance Performance (MA) from the University of Limerick. 


Emma brought joy to all those with whom she worked.  No matter how difficult or dark the material she could introduce light. A consummate team player, as evidenced by her core contributions to CoisCéim and ANU, she was also fiercely independent. Before her untimely death Emma had embarked on a new phase of discovery and development in her practice, concentrating on self-authored work. 
Find out more about Emma



‘Go big or go home’ was an Emma expression. She would say it to encourage (and challenge) those she worked with to be ambitious and brave about what they wanted to achieve artistically. Emma believed in people’s potential and in trying things out. She was never afraid of failure. The purpose of the bursary, why it exists and its unique contribution to artists, aims to capture this essence.  



The Emma O’Kane Bursary dares artists to ‘go big’ and fearlessly venture beyond the norms of what they do, and by embracing dance or a physical language in their work enjoy new confidence, capacity and understanding.   



The light of Emma's integrity and the ferocity of her artistry continues to embolden artists and to catalyse brilliant, daring new ways of making and sharing art.



Emma lived and worked led by a strong set of values. We have sought to capture some of what she believed in and stood for in the values of the bursary. Emma’s legacy may best be assured as we bring these values to life. 


EXPLORATION | Emma was an explorer. Adventurous, fearless, she was always ready to give things a go. This bursary is about going beyond the familiar. Being willing to experiment, to ask questions, to challenge expectations, to explore and create the new. We support artists to do so with courage and curiosity, with an open-mind and a big heart.


INTEGRITY | Emma embodied integrity. Forthright and kind, she had an extraordinary ability to connect with people, to see them as they truly are and to help them achieve their potential. This bursary aims to do likewise. We support artists to be true to themselves and to develop genuine new affinities with people, practices and contexts.  By doing so, we enable artists to be the best that they can be. 


ASSURANCE | Emma brought a safety and a surety as well as her great sense of humour to a rehearsal room. She affirmed our ability to take risks and to deal with dark or difficult work. This bursary is about building the capacity and confidence of artists to achieve their brave and bold ambitions. We look forward to disrupting norms, blazing trails, and imagining new horizons. 



The Emma O’Kane Bursary is open to artists of all types and talents. Whatever your background, lived experience or artistic practice, if you have the CURIOSITY to explore and integrate dance, movement or other forms of physical language in your work, the COURAGE to push art form boundaries and to challenge norms and the AMBITION to be the best that you can be as an artist, we would love to hear from you. 

Find out more about how to apply


Each bursary award is tailored to meet the artists needs and includes the following:

  • A six week stipend of €600 / week equating to €3,600

  • A research and materials budget of €500

  • A six week residency in the Atrium at 42 Fairview Strand, Dublin 3

  • Up to five mentorship sessions to be mutually defined and organised by the Bursary, equating to a value of €1,250

  • Opportunities to take professional dance class to be mutually defined


In addition, artists will have unrestricted access to a series of commissioned Visual Resources that capture the unique ethos and practice of Emma O’Kane across multiple artforms to help inform and advance the practice of artists selected. 
Find out more about these Resources



It is made possible through individual donations and support from production companies who worked with Emma over the years.  It has been designed as an independent opportunity where state support is not envisaged.


The commissioning and filming of the seven Visual Resources together with key expertises to set up the bursary were funded through a Collaborative Capacity Building Grant from the Arts Council of Ireland.   


The selection of the bursary artists is by an independent panel of three practicing artists / curators / producers against the core criteria of CURIOSITY, COURAGE and AMBITION in relation to the development of an individual's artistic practice. This opportunity is designed to focus on the journey rather than a destination. The only tangible outcome expected of the artist is to leave a "trace" for the future - this can be in any format and will be archived on the Bursary website.


It brings together Anu Productions, CoisCéim Dance Theatre, Crash Ensemble, Dublin Dance Festival, Fishamble: The New Play Company, Pavilion Theatre, Project Arts Centre The Ark, Dublin and a number of independent professionals. It was set up with a Collaborative Capacity Building Award from the The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon in 2021 and is funded entirely by donation. THANK YOU.


Emma’s independent spirit lies at the heart of this initiative and the bursary was set up with the support of her immediate family.  It is managed on a day to day basis by CoisCéim Dance Theatre at 42 Fairview Strand.  

Find out more about the Donors and Advisors

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