30 April - 19 May 2019

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Rachel’s Top 5 Picks for DDF 2018

Wed 25 Apr 2018

Rachel’s Top 5 Picks for DDF 2018

Are you a dessert deliberator? The person who holds up the show at the end of a meal agonising over the chocolate mousse or the panna cotta, convinced that your entire experience will be ruined if you make the wrong decision?

Making decisions is tough - especially when you're looking at a menu of things that all look good. With one week to festival opening and, with some shows nearly sold out (!), it's time to get booking if you want to see some surprising and wonderful dance this year. I was once told by a non-Irish festival director that the Irish are particularly tardy in booking their tickets, leaving arts marketing managers in a state of sweaty-palmed panic over box office figures until opening night. As a viewer though, it can be daunting to lay down cold hard cash on shows you know little about. So how do you choose?

In the coming days, I'll be speaking to some of the artists in the programme and reporting back here on what moves, intrigues and inspires them. So stay tuned! In the mean time, here's my personal top 5 picks for 2018 to help ease you into the decision making process. 

Oona Doherty – Hard to be Soft

Oona Doherty is currently one of the best-known and most in-demand choreographers and performers in the country – and is starting to build her reputation in Europe. The Belfast-based artist came to mainstream awareness for her unforgettable performance in Enda Walsh’s play Arlington, where she channelled the experience of the end of a life spent in confinement through her unique and ferocious physicality. This year, both of her solo works (Hope Hunt and Hard to be Soft) tour Europe, and she’s already under commission to create a new piece for 2019, Lady Magma. One to watch in the future, and one definitely not to be missed as part of the festival.

Christos Papadopoulos / Leon & the Wolf – Ion

Christos Papadopoulos’ Elvedon was the leftfield popular choice in last year’s festival programme. A study in repetition and understatement over fifty minutes, the broadly monotone piece charmed and soothed audiences with its pared back intelligence. One of last year’s guest reviewers on the blog, Fumbally café owner Aisling Rogerson, had this to say about it. The Greek choreographer returns to Dublin this year with Ion, a piece that explores synchronicity and group dynamics at the atomic level. If you liked Elvedon, I’m guessing you’ll like this. If you missed Elvedon, here’s your second chance to catch the work of this unique choreographer.

Junk Ensemble ­– Dolores

Drawing inspiration from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita, this new work from twin sister choreographers Megan and Jessica Kennedy breathes life into the voice of the silenced girl in the original story. The piece is site-specific, taking place in the atmospheric and rambling surrounds of the Chocolate Factory on King’s Inns Street. Site-specific is what Junk Ensemble do best, their flair for invention and atmosphere amplified by a non-theatre space. Featuring charismatic performers Amanda Coogan and Mikel Murfi, alongside dancers Deirdre Griffin and Julie Koenig, this promises to be a hot ticket.

Yvonne Rainer – Selected Works

Yvonne Rainer is one of the most influential choreographers in contemporary dance. She forged her sensibility in the hotbed of creativity and experimentation that was 1960s New York, working with Merce Cunningham and influenced by the theories of John Cage. Her No Manifesto (‘No to spectacle / No to virtuosity / No to moving or being moved…’) was radical in its conception of what dance is for and how it works. As part of this year’s programme, three of her iconic early works will be presented at and by IMMA, in partnership with the Festival. As part of these performances, Rainer herself will travel to Dublin for a conversation about her work in the world of dance and art.

Robyn Orlin – And so you see…

The South African choreographer Robyn Orlin has been making work for 20 years and has regularly been regarded as a thorn in the side of the establishment of her home country. She doesn’t shy from asking provocative questions. In And so you see… our honourable blue sky and ever enduring sun… can only be consumed slice by slice (full title), Orlin works with performer Albert Khoza, a traditional healer from South Africa. Together they probe the troubled spots in the conscience of a post-apartheid-society to create a work that’s visually rich, and pulls no punches in what it dares to question.

Rachel Donnelly is the editor of DRAFF and arts editor for Totally Dublin