'The powerfull performer Oona Doherty

'-De Volkskrant, Annette Embrechts 2011.

T.R.A.S.H. attacks Montreal with its brutal brilliance

Doherty combines minute attention to physical detail (trembling fingertips, curled toes) with acrobatic, masochistic throws and gravity- defying backbends. She goes from jumping childishly from side to side to posing pseudo- sexually only to dissolve into a zombie walk seconds later.


Submitted by Nancy Berman on 7th March 2013

T.r.a.s.h. (Netherlands) - Danse Danse | Maison symphonique de Montréal: Cinquième salle | Ballet review

London born Oona Doherty was magnificent and stole the show. She eclpised everyone and everything. As she became a creature writhing and whipping her limbs with shocking force and and precision. Doherty is a master of her own body and movement is her natural element. She is bundled energy, even before she moves the pent up expression is akin to the atom waiting to be split.

- Bairbre Ni Bhraonain.     Dublin Gazette.  

Emma Martin TUNDRA Dublin Dance Festival May 2014

And there are strengths, Oona Doherty’s incredible movement as she wonderfully fills the space in an interrupting but brilliant dance segment, -Sophie Gorman Irish independent  

it's noteworthy that the most affecting moment is conducted in silence. A powerful but unsettling dance by Oona Doherty's character in the second act, choreographed by Emma Martin, leads up to a chilling climax.

The wordless performance, delivers more impact than the soliloquies and bursts of manic energy throughout and while the segment may try the audience's patience - it's worth mentioning that on the night I was there several people took their leave at this juncture - this scene is the one that lingers longest after the curtain has fallen. RTE

- Arlington Enda Walsh and united Fall Landmark Productions 2016

www.gauchebdo.ch, 8 March 2018

Waiting for Oona Doherty


 The Irish artist Oona Doherty mixes a physico‐sociological theatricality, the urban dance alphabet, neoclassical ballet memories and the contemporary with an aspiration to the sacred in a solo that holds violence at bay.

Based in Belfast and formed at the London School of Contemporary Dance, the University of Ulster and the Laban Conservatory in London, the work of choreographer and dancer Oona Doherty was hailed by many prices. At 31, she is one of the choreographers scheduled for the event Les Printemps de la danse which takes place until March 18th at the Théâtre Sévelin 36 in Lausanne.

Dance melancholy

The artist has, pegged to the body, a melancholic and introverted mood that permeates her choreographic creations, including Hope Hunt & The Ascension of Lazarus noticed by a plethora of programmers. The melancholic Cogito is translated into her dance by a subjectivity on the run, disjointed and plural. Evidenced by a form of multiplication of an exposed and tearful self‐transiting between several incarnations. Oona Doherty's melancholy seems to be a real crisis and existential anguish as described by Kierkegaard. Either a catharsis of Being and a relation to its dark foundations. But also to the outcasts heard in voice over in Hope Hunt..., between aggression, victimization and dance meditation.

“You can see the soul of a man in his eyes” according to Hildegarde de Bingen, a mystic Benedictine nun, composer and woman of letters. In her gaze turned to the skies, the choreographer and dancer knows how to transcend the revolts, provocations, errors and impasses of the marginalized evoked

by their gestures and voices. This, in a form of trance taking care of pain and impotent rage, deleterious sometimes, lives forgotten, precarious, here resuscitated.

Oona Doherty has a fragile and destructured way of her own, to repatriate the signs of challenges, violence and apostrophes, which some young people use in the urban space to challenge and exist. It is less virulent and avenging behaviors that are invested, refigured by the dancer as their archetypal traces. These are worked by the filter of a surprising gestural relevance leading them to the dance by a particular phenomenon of accumulation. Thus this breathing‐expiration that the dancer carries back in a sound and fast way.

Sacred and hip hop

Hope Hunt & The Ascension of Lazarus tiles spectacular moments close to the martial arts, including the famous vertical kick dear to Jean‐Claude Van Damme, Jet Li and the Brazilian fighting dance, capoeira. There may be some glimpses of Lloyd Nelson's choreographic work. His physical theater DV8, which is pronounced deviate, which means "deviant". The body and the verb conjugate and begin a sulphurous dance which reveals crudely what our societies try to dissimulate falsely (but by exclusion and violence). Lloyd Newson's radical shows highlight injustices and reveal in images and words the fate of old men, women and homosexuals, while castigating our hypocrisy.

If we are far from the virtuosity deployed by the Belgian‐Moroccan choreographer Sid Larbi Cherkaoui in some creations mixing hip‐hop, contemporary and works of the religious repertoire, Oona Doherty chose, on purpose, the Miserere of Gregorio Allegri. And its alternation between the Gregorian monody (likened to God Almighty) and the choral mass (the assembly of the faithful terrorized and powerless) is constant and regular. Tibi soli peccavi thus comes to death like a death knell our eternal repentance: “Against you and you alone I sinned”.

There are also the recumbent arms of ballet (the fifth position of the ballet and its arms in the crown), style first ballerina of Swan Lake and some iconic forms of hip hop dance that are slowly deconstructed. What marks, is this movement caught in the ecstatic trance, this look towards the beyond, in the distance, eyes shining and as if showered with tears. The dancer is not then without repatriating the memory of Catherine Mouchet in the film of Alain Cavalier, Thérèse, who chooses the voluntary confinement of Carmel. Hence this impression of infinite melancholy tense to the listening of voices, of an invisible out‐of‐field, of a revelation perhaps. And this shy character, on the verge of implosion, detached, concentrated that goes with an urban gesture reminiscent of the white rapper Eminem in the film about his life, 8 Mile.


The body atmosphere, at once acrobatic, liquid, convulsive, destructured stratum by stratum, evokes certain pieces of the Flemish choreographer Koen Augustijnen. Composing a solo from simple gestures, as from everyday life, that she explores and dereals to extract the plastic and energetic force. The Irish artist produces a personal and in‐depth aesthetic that draws its strength from the authenticity of its creative intent and is anchored far from any effect of formalization.

Slang suburban male dominated is also spoken, danced, remix by the choreographer and performer. She also finds there the rites of girls' bands who interpellate themselves by chanting "Hey, Sylvie ... Whore", which turns in loop. Her movements then confine to a haunting go‐and‐return to the same postural positions. There is no shadow of an ironic distance over her solo. But a willingness to engage in somatic, unconscious states, sometimes recalling the painting of Francis Bacon and its twisted anatomy, to foster a form of empathy.

Cinema influences

Oona Doherty has worked artistically in a prison environment and has developed a scenic form setting references to the science fiction of an Aldous Huxley. Either the dystopia THX 1138, film about the belief of Georges Lucas depicting a universe in the 25th century that has removed all emotion from human nature. We remember those bodies dressed in white, lost and controlled in immaculate spaces. Returned bodies, tormented in particular by police officers armed with electric lances. The unique dialogues lie in a one‐way communication between humans (or what's left) and an effigy symbolizing a monotheistic religion. The whole being of an incredible sadness and power of supplication. We then remember the t‐shirt and training pants with three emblematic bands in the “white” variant of Oona Doherty’s solo.

The soundtrack and gesture of Hope Hunt & The Ascension of Lazarus, sociological and biblical title if any, is also responsible for references taken from The Hate of Mathieu Kassovitz and, especially, in a docu‐fiction We Bastards? (visible on the net). Real false, unpleasant young people are "locked out" in Belfast. They lined up street harassment, beatings drunk homeless and various invectives while expressing themselves in an irish slang, where the same words chopped, shipwrecked come back. The end of the “film” is an act of contrition or redemption. The leader of the “gang" poses with the sign marking his popular qualification (“scum”) as in medieval times while a tramp, throws himself into the water before emptying his bottle.

In an amateur montage worthy of a local TV trash, we also follow the vagaries of a young woman Gloria, who screams in terror, being seized panic attacks on a sidewalk. On stage, we hear her screams. And the performer takes up some of her gestures to drift after Pina Bausch and Alain Platel and many other choreographers to a choreographic canvas. See her outstretched arm, her body twisted and shaking, her face distorted by a vernacular language incomprehensible to the layman.

Beckettian choreography

At first glance, in a quest for a purified and complex dramaturgy marked by the memory of disjointed urban bodies, askew, on the margin we could describe, in part, "beckettian" the dance of the Irish. We remember that Samuel Beckett, her famous compatriot and playwright has achieved many concordances including the modern ballet and the method of Jacques Dalcroze’s rhythmic gymnastics he discovered in 1928 and will have a profound impact on the development of dance in Europe and in the United States. From Waiting for Godot to Acts without words, to the End of the game or Oh les beaux jours, body language allows ‐ even in its negation ‐ to put away, in questions or in failure, the verbal language.

We discover, as choreographed by Oona Doherty, the abandonment of all privileges of vertical stature; the fall always renewed, the fact of dying incessantly in this way of bouncing like a fish out of the wave which agonizes, the agglutination of the elements such as the breath, the liquid dimension of a body in decomposition and dismemberment, the importance of the tremor to stand up; the replacement of any story or narrative frame with a “gestus” as a logic of postures and positions; the search for minimalism; the investment by the dance of the walking and its accidents and the conquest of gestural dissonances.

Christophe Pequiot

Oona Doherty, in the most abstract fashion delivers a stunningly intriguing performance as she delves deep into the task of exploring a complex humanity. Writhing through the space like a lone animal, in all manor of slides, dives and shifts. Doherty, when the light is agile enough to capture her, offers us not only an insight into human struggle, but also a unique perspective on how the body continues to evolve as being a veichle in creating the most beautifully striking art.

-Bryony Cooper Cloud Dance Festival London July 2013

Doherty combines minute attention to physical detail (tembling fingertips, curled toes) with acrobatic, masochistic throws and gravity-defying backbends. She goes from jumping chidishly from side to side to posing pseudo-sexually only to dissolve into a zombie walk seconds later.-Nancy Berman Danse Danse Maison symphonique de Montreal 2013

'the starring role this time goes to Oona Doherty from Ireland. And she makes it look easy; she’s not only funny, aggressive, punk and overwhelming, she can sing too.' Joost Goutziers, Brabants Dagblad​ 2010

A dancer (Oona Doherty) enters. Wearing her prettiest dress and her best wig, she steps forward hesitantly in her red pumps. Nervously, she looks out into the audience. She grins uncertainly. She giggles uneasily. And then crashes onto the hard floor. Again. And again.'
© Bregtje Schudel, Theaterkrant.nl 2011

for Tracey
QUOTE JURY-'This film astounded us by its brave portrayal of the unpleasant aspects of relationships, the freshness of the on-screen talent and its punk sensibilities.' -Cinedans Festival 2011