Dublin Dance Festival 2017 will burst into life from 18th to 28th May, offering up some tasty treats from around the globe and across Ireland.

The 2017 Dublin Dance Festival programme was recently announced, and eclectic be its name. Look out for events ranging from a Baroque feast to a Hip-Hop Dance Battle, from world-class dance on the stages of the Abbey Theatre to a baby boogie in Merrion Square Park, and with inspirations as diverse as UFOs, Virginia Woolf, striptease, and the search for true love.

The 2017 programme features over 40 events by artists from 11 countries and more than 50 dancers performing in venues across Dublin. They will be accompanied by 3 DJs, an opera singer and a graffiti artist, attractions including a star turn from Demi Moore and props including 18 wine glasses, 2 portions of brine shrimps, a cauliflower and a pomegranate.

The festival has been programmed by Director Benjamin Perchet, who comments on this year’s diverse, sensual and provocative programme, “We value the artists’ freedom of expression, conscience, blasphemy, criticism – all of which offers us a precious mirror in these ever more obscene contemporary times.” Referring to the breadth of activities on offer, he says, “The festival continues to honour its fundamental mission: to make choreographic art in all its variety accessible to as many people as possible.”

Colin Dunne

Highlights of the festival

– New work from trailblazing traditional Irish dance artist Colin Dunne (pictured above), opening the 2017 festival

– The Top 8 Hip-Hop Dance Battle from Hip-Hop innovator Tobi Omoteso and the Top 8 Team, a celebration of urban culture and street dance bringing together artists from Ireland and Europe

– A multi-media Baroque installation – featuring those wine glasses and brine shrimps – in Deep Dish from acclaimed Austrian dance company Liquid Loft and choreographer Chris Haring

– “Choreographic miracle” Sunny, a joyful collision of dance and live music from choreographer Emanuel Gat and Awir Leon, a shooting star of the electronic music scene

– Intergalactic work from the hottest Irish choreographers. Extraterrestrial Events inspired by UFO sighting reports from Company Philip Connaughton promises to be truly out of this world, while merry.go.round from Maria Nilsson Waller & Co. looks beyond our world out into the cosmos to examine our most human of concerns: the search for true love


– Iconic choreography from Pina Bausch brought to life in Ireland’s biggest NELKEN-Line (pictured above) as part of a global participation project

– For audiences 6+, a multi-media dance show from one of Europe’s most sought-after choreographers at The Ark

– A chance to see new Irish dance work from artists including Liz Roche Company (newly-announced as Dublin Dance Festival Company in Residence 2017-19) and Sibéal Davitt in the First Looks programme

– Maguy Marin’s Singspiele, described by festival Director Perchet as the “epicentre” of his 2017 programme

– A fun free day of dance and entertainment for all ages with Moveable Feast in Merrion Square Park

– From Greece, a poetic and hypnotic meditation on Virginia Woolf’s The Waves in Elvedon

– A poignant exploration of the body in the context of war, revolution and migration in Displacement by Syrian choreographer and dancer Mithkal Alzghair

– A cinematic exploration of the roots of rituals, dance and sculpture by director Gilles Delmas and choreographer Damien Jalet, narrated by performance artist Marina Abramović

– Striptease from Spanish choreographer Pere Faura, featuring an on-screen appearance by Demi Moore.


Leading traditional Irish dance artist Colin Dunne opens the festival with his highly-anticipated new solo show Concert, performing alongside the music of fiddle player Tommie Potts’ iconic album The Liffey Bank – widely considered unsuitable for dancing to.

Colin Dunne @ DDF 2017

Armed with an LP, portable speakers and sheets of flooring, Dunne sets out to ‘dance’ this controversial album, collaborating with Sinéad Rushe, director of Dunne’s Olivier Award-nominated solo Out of Time (2008), and acclaimed composer Mel Mercier. Dunne and Potts, across a distance of 45 years, play side by side in a mutual recognition of old and new, traditional and personal, in this Dublin Dance Festival commission.


The Abbey Theatre will be home to three stunning works from international choreographers during the festival.

Choreographic miracle” ( Les Echos) Sunny is a vibrant, joyful collision of gorgeous dance and a live concert from Bessie Award winning French company Emanuel Gat Dance and DJ, singer and performer Awir Leon. In this playful and sensual show, ten dancers respond to each other and to the soundtrack, which unfolds from Marvin Gaye’s song Sunny. The uplifting piece explodes with ideas, new sounds and an exuberant energy, masterfully orchestrated by Gat, and has been described as “a blast of pleasures.” The BNP Paribas Foundation brings its support to the Emanuel Gat Dance Company and contributes to its participation at the 2017 Dublin Dance Festival.

Deep Dish

A stunning spectacle of Baroque opulence, Deep Dish from Austrian dance company Liquid Loft offers an intoxicating garden of earthly delights – bound to decay, yet ripe with renewal. Spectating on a bizarre dinner party, the audience encounters the beauty and decadence of human existence. Projecting live footage from a handheld camera, four performers lead the viewer through parallel worlds of organic objects, accompanied by lush imagery and evocative soundscapes. This celebrated work brings together cutting-edge dance, live-film and fine art, and is a collaboration between multi award-winning Austrian choreographer Chris Haring and French fine artist Michel Blazy.

Displacement by Syrian choreographer and dancer Mithkal Alzghair is a highly topical exploration of the body in the context of war, revolution and migration. This poignant piece for three dancers offers a striking reflection on the experience of fleeing and the uncertainty of life in exile, and reflects conflicting emotions; the hope of escape versus the anxiety of knowing that to return is impossible. Alzghair himself trained in Damascus and Montpellier, having fled to France to avoid military service. In Displacement, he investigates how the folklore of his homeland has been shaped by politics, highlighting the paradox of a deeply rooted culture, forced to re-locate.


Dublin Dance Festival is committed to strengthening the influence of Irish contemporary dance on the European and international scene, commissioning and presenting work made in Ireland every year.

Extraterrestrial Events presented by Company Philip Connaughton sees dancer/choreographer Connaughton reassemble the team who brought us the prize-winning extravaganza Tardigrade. For this multi-sensory new work, he is joined by four incredible dancers, composer Michael Gallen and world renowned soprano Kim Sheehan. This spectacular dance piece, that’s also an opera, is inspired by UFO sighting reports. Did they really happen? Do we want to know?

Merry Go Round @ DDF

In merry.go.round, Maria Nilsson Waller (pictured above) looks beyond our world into the blackness of the cosmos to examine our most human of concerns: the search for true love. In this otherworldly realm five characters orbit each other, all longing for authentic connections in a world where every man is an island. Rebel Swedish jazz band Je Suis !, NASA recordings of the solar system and iconic opera music all feature as part of the eclectic soundtrack.

The festival is delighted to be hosting Volume 3 of the hugely popular annual Top 8 Hip-Hop Dance Battle from Hip-Hop innovator Tobi Omoteso and the Top 8 Team. Dancers from across Ireland and Europe will showcase their best moves to represent themselves, their crew and their country in this epic dance event, competing in Breaking, Hip-Hop, Krump and Under16’s Allstyle battles. The Battle follows a day of workshops at DanceHouse and competitive heats led by the Top 8 Team, who are passionate about bringing communities together with Hip-Hop culture.

This year the festival is proud to announce that the renowned Liz Roche Company will be Dublin Dance Festival Company-In-Residence from 2017 – 2019. Roche has been one of Ireland’s most innovative and exciting choreographers for more than 15 years, working with a world class dance ensemble, and has consistently enriched the DDF programme since its inception in 2002. People from a broad range of disciplines will be invited to input and engage with the residency, and Roche (pictured below) will also mentor younger choreographers and dancers. During the festival’s First Looks programme, Roche will present a studio sharing of her work Totems – which will have its world premiere in the National Gallery of Ireland in July. This new work will combine intricate movement patterns and live music, stripping Roche’s subtle choreography back to explore our accepted wisdoms, collective histories and deepest instincts.

Liz Roche

The 2017 First Looks programme will feature four studio-sharings, including Totems from Liz Roche Company. Mónica Muñoz’s Sink or Swim plays with the expectations imposed on women and with the clichés of femininity in an over-sexualised society that accepts women only as object, not subject, of desire. Sibéal Davitt & Kristyn Fontanella present As We Know It, an honest and humorous conversation between sean-nós dancer Davitt and traditional Irish step dancer Fontanella, questioning and challenging each other’s understanding of Irish dance. Nascanna, a collaboration between traditional Irish dancer Liam Scanlon and fiddle player David Doocey, delves into the relationship between music and dance by exploring how one influences the other. First Looks is the primary platform for Irish choreographers to introduce new work to local and international presenters and audience members. Over the years, many of these works have gone on to be produced as full length pieces at the Dublin Dance Festival and have toured successfully both at home and abroad.


Perchet says, “Maguy Marin’s Singspiele is the epicentre of this 2017 festival, offering a sense of the collective, because living together is the only way to live… Its humanistic and democratic message, its poetic force and radicality will leave some indelible traces.” Dozens of characters make an appearance in this fascinating one-man-show by the fearless and celebrated French choreographer Maguy Marin. Using simple props, actor David Mambouch skilfully creates a moving gallery of portraits, his own identity concealed behind a succession of images of faces – some familiar, others not.

Themes of commonality and solidarity appear again in Elvedon from Christos Papadopoulos and his dance company Leon & the Wolf. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, six bodies move together to a vital thrumming beat. This absorbing meditation on the concept of eternal flow and the passing of time sees the dancers build towards a collective motion of hypnotic beauty.

Pere Faura / Stiptease

Bringing the European programme to a witty and provocative close, Spanish choreographer Pere Faura (pictured above) gets intimate with his audience in his mischievous show Striptease. This show about the theatrical art of undressing is an exposé of the mechanisms of desire and seduction. Cleverly mixing dance, theatre and video elements, Faura delves into the relationship between the performer and the spectator, with the help of a star turn by Demi Moore.


Family-friendly events at the festival will include Balletto di Roma’s charming and interactive At Home Alone from Alessandro Sciarroni, one of Europe’s most sought-after choreographers. This multi-media dance show at The Ark will be encouraging young audiences to discover fun, new ways to get creative with technology, accompanied by the sounds of classic dance-floor-fillers from the likes of Whitney Houston and Adele. Balletto di Roma will also be offering a fun dance workshop for ages 6+ at The Ark.

And after its hugely successful inaugural year in 2016, the free family-friendly celebration of dance Moveable Feast is back in Merrion Square Park on Sunday 21st May. This will be a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an fun afternoon of dance activities for all ages including a ‘Bubble Baby Boogie’ and ‘Bollyrobics’ workshops, an intergenerational tea dance with CoisCéim Broadreach’s The Dance Ensemble 50+, pop-up performances by Dublin Youth Dance Company and more.

Moveable Feast will also be host to the biggest NELKEN-Line in Ireland. This will be the culmination of an all-island invitation for everyone to dance one the most famous dance sequences ever created by iconic choreographer Pina Bausch: the “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter” line from her 1982 piece NELKEN. This activity is part of global project Dance! The NELKEN-Line by the Pina Bausch Foundation and ARTE, the European culture channel. The NELKEN-Line consists of a few simple gestures which describe the alternation of the four seasons, and is performed by dancers walking in a long queue to Louis Armstrong’s wonderful recording of West End Blues. Hundreds of dancers – both professionals and novices – are expected to take part in this grand finale during the festival. All are welcome to learn the steps and participate on the day. Presented in Ireland by Dublin Dance Festival with the support of the Goethe-Institut Irland and Dunne & Crescenzi.


The Ferryman

The festival will be screening Gilles Delmas’ fascinating film The Ferryman, a cinematic and choreographic exploration of the animistic roots of rituals, dance and sculpture, and the ancestral and complex relationship between humanity and nature. Filmed in the stunning landscapes of Bali, Japan and Scotland, as well as the Louvre museum, The Ferryman is narrated by performance artist Marina Abramović, choreographed by Damien Jalet and hauntingly scored by composer Ryuchi Sakamoto.


Deep Clean, an exhibition of collages by Northern Irish choreographer Oona Doherty, one of Ireland’s most exciting and promising dance artists, will be on view at the Festival Box Office 2nd-28th May. These visceral works on paper are composed from an arresting and diverse range of source material. At DDF2016 Doherty delivered the powerful Lazarus and the Birds of Paradise as part of the First Looks programme. She later performed the piece as part of Hope Hunt in 2016, for which she won Best Performer at the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival.


Residencies are part of the festival’s commitment to nurturing and championing Irish dance artists, during and beyond the festival dates. Dublin Dance Festival and the Abbey Theatre are facilitating a residency period for Oona Doherty’s latest dance work from this summer in the Peacock Theatre. Dublin Dance Festival will also be supporting joint research and development opportunities for Colin Dunne and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (pictured below) – two major and undeniable international talents. Morocco / Belgium-based Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is celebrated as one of the most original and ambitious artists working in contemporary dance today. He and Dunne have been dreaming about working together for more than ten years, and via the festival will now be working together in a number of collaboration periods in Ireland and abroad over the coming year.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Prior to the festival, distinguished German dramaturge, curator, writer and researcher Sandra Noeth will be on a week-long residency focused on socially-engaged dance, facilitated by Create, the EU Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP), Dance Limerick and Dublin Dance Festival. Following this, she will lead a public panel discussion Moving Conversations: Sandra Noeth De-normalising Bodies, Rehearsing Citizenship.


The festival will also be offering a range of initiatives for people keen to learn more about dance. The Fast Track to Dance programme is back for its fifth year, taking participants right to the heart of the festival with a weekend of performances, discussions, and direct access to artists. The Creative Audiences programme with Liz Roche Company is inviting audiences in Tallaght to engage with dance and find out how the company creates dance works with a series of events from April-September. The festival will also be active throughout the year outside the festival dates in May. In September the festival will host their Dance Days tent at the Electric Picnic for the third year running. In Cork, in partnership with Cork Opera House, they will be present work by Philip Connaughton and Liz Roche Company in the “Best of Irish” programme in September and October – following Liz Roche Company’s Totems at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin in July.

Perchet concludes that the 2017 programme, bringing “together artists from diverse horizons and playing with new work and repertory and the boundaries between people and art-forms” is “inspired by the Greek poet Pindar’s ‘O my soul, seek not the immortal, but instead exhaust the realm of the possible.'”


Tickets for the 2017 Dublin Dance Festival may be reserved online now, by phone + 353 1 673 0660 from 2nd May, or in person at the Box Office on East Essex Street, also from 2nd May. 


the thin grey line

All images courtesy Dublin Dance Festival

– Lead image Liquid Loft / Deep Dish © Bernhard Müller
– Photos of Colin Dunne © Maurice Gunning
– Pina Bausch Foundation – NELKEN Line © Sala Seddiki
– Liquid Loft / Deep Dish © Michael Loizenbauer
– Maria Nilsson Waller & Co. / Merry Go Round © Patricio Cassinoni
– Photo of Liz Roche © Alan Gilsenan
– Photo of Pere Faura / Stiptease © Rafael Gavalle
– Photo of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui © Joris Casaer

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to offer you the best experience online. By continuing to use our website, you agree to the use of cookies.