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La Biennale di Venezia

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Biennale Danza 2021

Oona Doherty

Silver Lion

Award Ceremony

During the 15th International Festival of Contemporary Dance
23 July > 1 August 2021

Oona Doherty

La Biennale di Venezia will present the Silver Lion to the Northern-Irish dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty.

Thirty-four-year-old Oona Doherty, based in Belfast, rose to prominence in Britain and later on the European scene with her electrifying solo Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus, which forcefully addresses themes of gender identity and religion, issues that generally remain out of the spotlight in dance.

“Doherty’s interests, passions and singular outlier instincts – writes Wayne McGregor – have never gelled with the establishment dance world. Inspired by club culture and ‘informal’ dancing Doherty has refined her craft through trial and error, her approach unorthodox, creative, raw and brave. What is significant about her work is how it reaches out and speaks to many who would not normally come to the theatre. Her dances communicate across boundaries and demographics in arrows straight to the heart. She has an exceptional gift in working with non - dancers and local communities, often integrating them into her touring productions with great insight and humanity. This award will remind the world that there is no one way to become a great artist. Art sits within you and will always out”. 

Biographical notes

Oona Doherty, born in 1986, is a Northern-Irish choreographer based in Belfast. She studied at St. Louise’s Comprehensive College in Belfast, at the London Contemporary Dance School, the University of Ulster and LABAN. She earned an undergraduate and a master’s degree in the Disciplines of Contemporary Dance. Since 2010, she has worked with several companies, including: T.r.a.s.h. dance/performance group (Netherlands), Abattoir Fermé (Belgium), Veronika Riz (Italy), Emma Martin/United Fall, Enda Walsh and Landmark Productions (Ireland).

She has won many awards for her choreographic work, which includes: Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus (2015), a 30-minute solo that won her the Best Performer Award at the Tiger Dublin Fringe (2016), the Aerowaves award (2016/17), the Total Theatre Dance Award and The Place Dance Award at the Edinburgh Fringe (2017); Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer (2018), which won the Best Dance Show 2019 award from the English daily “The Guardian”; Lady Magma – The Birth of a Cult (2019).

She has been an associated artist as the MAC Belfast HATCH Artist (2016), an Aerowaves Selected Artist, Prime Cut REVEAL Artist (2017), Maison de la Danse Lyon and La Briqueterie Paris Associate (2017-20), and again the MAC Belfast HATCH Artist (2020).

She has collaborated on music videos with the Rubber Bandits, Girl Band, Jamie XX. She participated in the digital Dancing Nation festival promoted by BBC Arts and Sadler’s Wells with Hope Hunt (2020). Carla Holmes made a documentary about her artistic work titled Welcome To A Bright White Limbo, which won the Best Short Irish Film Award and a special mention at Tribeca in New York (2020).

Her choreographic experimentation has extended to the world of visual arts in an exhibition titled Death of the Hunter, shown at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, Lothringer 13 Halle in Munich, ADC Gallery in Geneva and the Kanal – Centre Pompidou in Brussels.

Her solo piece, Lazarus and the Concrete Birds of Paradise, will be on the programme of the Ballet de Marseille and become part of the company’s repertory.

Biennale Danza
Biennale Danza