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Oona Doherty - Navy Blue

Year/Length:2022, 60’ (Italian premiere)
Choreography and artistic direction:Oona Doherty
Management and production:Gabrielle Veyssiere
Production and administration:Jenny Suarez
Choreography:Oona Doherty with the collaboration of the dancers
Music:Jamie xx, Sergei Rachmaninoff
Music production:William Smith
Writer collaborator:Bush Moukarzel
Video concept:Nadir Bouassria
Lighting design and technical direction:John Gunning
Stage management:Lisa Marie Barry
Costume concept:Oona Doherty, Lisa Marie Barry
Dancers:Arno Brys, Kevin Coquelard, Thibaut Eiferman, Amancio Gonzalez Miñon, Kinda Gozo, Zoé Lecorgne, Andréa Moufounda, Magdalena Öttl, Tomer Pistiner, Mathilde Roussin, Hilde Ingeborg Sandvold, Joseph Simon, Sati Veyrunes
Produced by:OD Works
Co-produced by:Kampnagel International Summer Festival (Germany), Sadler’s Wells (UK), Chaillot - Théâtre national de la Danse (France), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Maison de la Danse (France), The Shed (USA), Belfast International Arts Festival (UK) and Big Pulse Dance Alliance co-produced by Dance Umbrella (UK), Dublin Dance Festival (Ireland), Torinodanza Festival (Italy), Julidans (the Netherlands)
Presented by:Tanz im August/HAU - Hebbel am Ufer (Germany), Zodiak - Side Step Festival (Finland), ONE DANCE WEEK (Bulgaria), TANEC PRAHA International Festival of Contemporary Dance and Movement Theatre (Czech Republic), New Baltic Dance (Lithuania), CODA Oslo International Dance Festival (Norway)
Funded by:German Federal Cultural Foundation
Co-funded by:Creative Europe programme of the European Union
With the support of:Kulturstiftung des Bundes and Direction régionale des affaires culturelles Île-de-France - Ministère de la Culture


Awarded the Biennale Danza’s Silver Lion dedicated to promising new talents two years ago, Oona Doherty is now a strong personality on the choreographic scene, whose work is non-conformist in its methods and themes. Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer, which had brought her to public attention with her staging of the vices and virtues of Belfast’s working classes, Oona Doherty returns to Venice with the urgency of her dance, driven by social and political issues, to question herself and us on the meaning of the artistic act, on the value and purpose of dance, and of our own being in the world.

Navy Blue, the second performance for a large ensemble and the newest work by the Northern Irish choreographer, will inaugurate the 17th International Festival of Contemporary Dance, gathering around it the interest of the many European theatres, foundations and festivals that co-produced it with La Biennale – Kampnagel International Summer Festival, Sadler’s Wells, Théâtre National de Chaillot, Maison de la Danse in Lyon, Belfast International Arts Festival, The Shed and the Big Pulse Dance Alliance which includes Dance Umbrella, Dublin Dance Festival, Torinodanza Festival, Julidans.

Divided into two parts, Navy Blue contrasts Rachmaninoff’s luxuriant music with the high-energy pulsations of Jamie xx, the hierarchies of dance with creative freedom, individual people with the immensity of the universe. In the first part, twelve dancers in blue track suits move to find unison between the classical reminiscences reinterpreted with a contemporary sensibility to the notes of the Concerto no. 2 for Piano and Orchestra by Rachmaninoff, between the fascination with harmony and the desire to break its order and rules. The tension rises and marks a break with the second part, in which the bodies are liberated, fists rise in threat and the gestures allude to battle and resistance while to the rhythm of Jamie xx’s soundtrack, a voice offstage recites a text written by Doherty together with the author, actor and director Bush Moukarzel, inspired by astronomer Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. The desire for rupture and protest shifts from the world of dance to the world in general, to history, to politics, to society with its conflicts and contradictions, to that pale blue dot which is the earth seen from the outer bounds of the solar system, to the insignificance of life in the face of that vast expanse of infinite space. 

On the opening page of the programme, Oona Doherty writes: “We arch up into the Galactic black of deep space. Scattered with shooting stars, with bodies tearing through the night sky a deep acrylic blue. This is a bow to dance, this is a questioning of what to do next”. And ends the work by saying: “I will walk out of this theatre, and you will walk out of this theatre, and we will do unimportant things and those things, thank God, will matter”.

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Biennale Danza
Biennale Danza