Be Serious. Be Sensuous. Be Silly.
It looks like summer is striving to find a foothold early this year. And no wonder, for in less than a month the premiere arts festival of the summer is set to once again take over Dublin between May 1st-19th with its usual ferocity, vibrancy and welcoming style. Now in its 15th edition, Dublin Dance Festival celebrates the brilliant, awe-inspiring and thought-provoking of dance from across Ireland and the globe. Taking place in a variety of venues across the city, DDF 2019 opens with the joyous act of rebellion that is RIOT, closing with master of contemporary dance, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas dans Rosas. In between, there’s legends and new voices, the conservative and controversial, wonders and workshops, all exploring the important issues while making sure to throw the best dance party of the summer.
Once again, it’s all about taking creative risks. Nailing its brave, consummately stylish colours to mast, DDF 2019 kicks off with the worldwide smash hit sensation RIOT from THISISPOPBABY. The Abbey Theatre becomes home to several pioneers, including the hugely anticipated collaboration Session which sees leading Irish dance artist Colin Dunne perform with Olivier Award-winning Flemish-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Dance Director of the Venice Biennale, Virgilio Sieni, make his Irish début on the Abbey Stage with La Natura Delle Cose from 2008, in which five dancers portray a single character moving through the cycle of life in one hour. An undisputed masterpiece of contemporary dance, Rosas danst Rosas by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker brings the festival to a close with its Irish premiere. Created in 1983, this piece for four female dancers showcases a tension characteristic of De Keersmaeker’s work where structure contrasts with emotion, and aggression with tenderness.
Project Arts Centre sees controversial Italian choreographer Roberto Castello exploring a life engulfed by endless desire in We go around at night consumed by fire. Fusing cinema, dance and theatre, four dancers move together, yet apart – their striking tribalistic movement relentlessly driving them to on. A piece for drones and dancers, Phoenix by Eric Minh Cuong Castaing is a collaboration between French and Palestinian artists that starts playfully, as drones on stage interact with three performers, leading into a live connection via Skype with artists in Gaza who live with constant threat from drones. Light and poignant in equal measure, Ensemble by Aerowaves Twenty 19’s Scottish artists Robbie Synge and Lucy Boyes sees five performers, ranging in age from 32 to 76, share a journey that lays bare their strengths, efforts and possibilities.
As always, the strength and diversity of work by Irish dance artists represents a crown jewel in DDF’s already rich programme. The inspirational Liz Roche Company, DDF Company in Residence, presents the Dublin premiere of the critically acclaimed I/Thou, a captivating exploration of human connection created in response to a series of paintings by iconic visual artist Brian O’Doherty. Following its hugely successful run last year, AFTER by Liv O’Donoghue makes a welcome return, diving head first into the unknown with one of the hits of the 2018 Dublin Fringe Festival. Inventions by John Scott’s Irish Modern Dance Theatre centres around Oona Doherty, one of Europe’s most gifted dance artists, and 84-year-old American dance legend Valda Setterfield, in a thrillingly intense performance which includes Merce Cunningham star Ashley Chen, as well as Kevin Coquelard and Mufutau Yusuf.
Inspiring the next generation of choreographers and dancers, Dublin Dance Festival 2019 features a broad range of events and workshops for younger audiences, including W.A.M. We Are Monchichi by Company Wang Ramirez for ages 7+. Presented by Dublin Dance Festival and The Ark at the O’Reilly Theatre, two performers mix storytelling, hip-hop, classical and contemporary dance as they search for harmony in today’s multicultural world. The following Saturday, May 11th, Company Wang Ramirez will lead a fun workshop at The Ark for ages 7–12 incorporating hip-hop and contemporary dance techniques. A free family event in Meeting House Square, Princesses Can Be Pirates by Mónica Muñoz Marín is an hilarious escapade for ages 4+ that turns stereotypes upside down. The Top 8 Street Dance Battle with Tobi Omoteso returns and Top 8 and the Red Bull Dance Connect team will also be giving high-energy Street Dance Workshops for all dance abilities aged 10+ at DanceHouse.
Tiny Dancer: a DJ Set for Kids sees kids aged 0-9 taking over the dance floor as DJ Donal Dineen hits the decks. Bounce Club Night, a club experience for adults with intellectual disabilities comes to Dublin for the first time, creating a fun, safe and accessible space for people of all abilities to socialise and dance the night away. Presented by Dublin Dance Festival in partnership with The Digital Hub the award-winning Selina Thompson brings The Missy Elliot Project to Dublin - an opportunity for women and girls of colour, aged between 14 and 18, to make a VR experience with all of the energy and excitement of an old-school Missy Elliott video. Taster workshops for this live performance and digital exchange project will take place during DDF 2019, with an intensive week-long workshop taking place in June.
And it doesn’t end there. DDF 2019’s Dance on Film programme will include a screening of Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance by director Charles Atlas. Dance on Film also features a screening of a curated programme of six short films including a selection of Light Moves Festival 2018 Award Winners and the premiere of CoisCéim’s How to Sink a Paper Boat. The Festival will also present works-in-development by two of Ireland’s most exciting dance artists. Here Be Dragons by United Fall/Emma Martin looks at religion, myth, art and sex. Dēmos by Liz Roche Company is a collaboration between Liz Roche and composer David Coonan, leading to a major new work for orchestra and dancers in 2020. The First Looks Programme offers an opportunity to see new works-in-development by Irish dance artists Lucia Kickham, Headonbody/Deirdre Griffin with Craig Cox and David Bolger & CoisCéim Dance Theatre. And DRAFF are teaming up with Dublin Digital Radio (ddr.) to host a night of music by Kevin Gleeson with his drone haunted pop songs, and Luca Truffarelli with his alternative deep house set, developed during Oona Doherty’s Hope Hunt tour.
With such a veritable feast on offer it might look a little overwhelming. But fear not. For those who want to deepen their understanding, DDF’s popular Fast Track programme offers a chance to be immersed in a weekend of dance, guided by the Live Collision team. The Fast Track group will attend world-class performances and participate in meet-the-maker sessions and facilitated group discussions.
Launching Dublin Dance Festival 2019, Benjamin Perchet, the Festival’s current director, said, “The distinguished reputation of the festival on the choreographic European and international scene, developed over its 14 editions, is a thrilling achievement. With the 2019 festival programme we’re offering an audacious selection of works which unite creative singularity with sensitivity to social themes. This year again, the programme is giving Irish audiences space for both spectacle and reflection, sensuality and seriousness.”
Consistently, throughout every year, dance produces some of the most innovative, cutting edge and transformative performance experiences. From theatre to opera, multi-disciplinary performances to classic disciplines, dance enhances all it touches. Which makes its absence again this year at the Irish Times Theatre Awards a criminal sin of omission. One which will hopefully be addressed, and redressed, in the coming year. And it would be equally criminal were you to miss out on what is the jewel in any dance year's crown. Be serious. Be sensuous. Be silly. But be there. It’s all there for the taking at Dublin Dance Festival 2019.
DDF Box Office: Book in person or over the phone at our Festival Box Office from 23 April. Mon–Sat: 11am–6pm Sun: 12pm–3pm (closed Sun 28 April). Festival House, 12 East Essex St Temple Bar, Dublin 2 +353 1 673 0660
Programme, please check out dublindancefestival.ie
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