Dublin Dance Festival 2018, which runs from 2nd to 20th May, will offer spectacular, entrancing and provocative dance from all over the world and across Ireland

The 2018 programme for the Dublin Dance Festival has it all, from a phenomenal production of Giselle by the English National Ballet and Akram Khan to a high energy Street Dance Battle; from devastatingly beautiful traditional Muslim rituals to a queer South African shamanic ceremony; from the fierce and proud femininity of flamenco to a dreamlike adventure for young audiences.

It features work by artists from Germany, Greece, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Lebanon, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA, in venues across Dublin.

The 2018 Festival will include:

The English National Ballet opening the 2018 Dublin Dance Festival with Akram Khan’s breathtaking re-imagining of Giselle performed by a cast of 40 dancers under Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo, and accompanied by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra

Dublin Dance Festival - Akram Khan's Giselle - Photo Laurent Liotardo

Catedral, a masterpiece from ground-breaking star of the flamenco world Patricia Guerrero

Hard To Be Soft – A Belfast Prayer, trail-blazing dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty’s reflection on her hometown

The Top 8 Street Dance Battle showcasing the best Irish and international street dancers, back after a storming, sold-out show last year

A guide through the seven mortal sins in And so you see...created by controversial choreographer and social commentator Robyn Orlin in partnership with Albert Khoza, a flamboyant young performer from Soweto

Junk Ensemble’s powerful new work Dolores, inspired by Nabokov’s novel Lolita, told from the perspective of the once-silenced girl,and featuring a cast of acclaimed performers including Mikel Murfi and Amanda Coogan

Following the success of the captivating Elvedon at DDF2017, Greek choreographer Christos Papadopoulos returns with the meditative and hypnotic universe of Ion

At the Science Gallery, Dancing Artificial Intelligence (DAI) – a robot who is an Artificial Intelligence artist, learning how to dance day after day

Yvonne Rainer @ Dublin Dance Festival - Photo Daniel Assayag

A special programme at IMMA of the work of Yvonne Rainer (pictured above), one of the most influential American artists of the last 50 years, including some of her iconic early dance works

(b)reaching stillness in which choreographer Lea Moro takes Baroque still life painting as a starting point, creating a cycle of collapse and resurrection

Liz Roche Company’s Wrongheaded which emerged amidst the call to repeal the 8th Amendment and merges film, voice and movement to confront the stark realities of women’s rights and freedom of choice in Ireland today

Leila’s Death, a stirring work by Lebanese choreographer and performer Ali Chahrour, which delves into the fading tradition of professional Shiite mourners

For audiences aged 7+, Philippe Saire’s magical children’s show Hocus Pocus at the Ark takes the audiences on a fantastical voyage

The Dance on Film programme with Akram Khan’s Can We Live With Robots? and Bobbi Jo Hart’s Rebels on Pointe which tells the story of the all-male comic ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte-Carlo

A Life of Play, a creative dance and play project for children aged 5–10 and their older family members aged 50+ with Emma O’Kane

A chance to see new Irish dance work from artists Ruairí Donovan, Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company and Jessie Keenan in the First Looks programme

A wealth of opportunities to discuss and explore dance


Giselle from English National Ballet / Akram Khan

Giselle, presented by Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in association with Dublin Dance Festival, is without doubt one of this year’s most hotly-anticipated performance events, with the English National Ballet performing in Ireland for the first time in over 55 years. This heartrending story of love, betrayal and redemption receives a contemporary interpretation by the award-winning choreographer Khan, one of the most original and exciting artists of today. This is the first full-length ballet to be choreographed by Khan, who is renowned for his innovative style that draws on contemporary dance and the ancient Indian dance form, Kathak. The result of this ambitious collaboration has been a triumph, earning an Olivier Award nomination and wowing audiences and critics alike.


Ground-breaking flamenco and a contemporary prayer for Belfast

Catedral from the astonishing Patricia Guerrero has been described as a “masterpiece” by Deflamenco.com. In this pioneering work, Guerrero transforms the stage into a sacred space in which a woman rages against the religious and social constraints that paralyse her, with four female dancers, three musicians, two opera singers and one flamenco singer creating an explosive interplay of dance and live music. Drawing from the traditions of flamenco, religious song and lyrical chant, Catedral is a captivating and provocative expression of the flamenco form.

After its blistering premiere at Belfast International Arts Festival, Oona Doherty will bring Hard To Be Soft – A Belfast Prayer to Dublin’s Abbey Stage for DDF2018. A prodigious talent, Doherty has garnered international attention, winning the Total Theatre Award for Dance at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and receiving rave reviews for her standout performance in Enda Walsh’s Arlington. Created in collaboration with renowned DJ and composer David Holmes and designer Ciaran Bagnall, Hard To Be Soft – A Belfast Prayer is based on the experience of living in today’s Belfast, exploring masculinity, sectarianism, culture, class and sexuality. This powerful piece features a unique cast, including Doherty herself and Hip-Hop dancers from Belfast’s Ajendance Youth Dance Company.

Oona Doherty-Hard To Be Soft- Photo Luca Truffarelli - Dublin Dance Festival


Shamanism, Artificial Intelligence, traditional Muslim rituals, encounters with Yvonne Rainer, inspirations of Baroque still life painting, and the sixth sense of belonging

From South Africa, And so you see… created by choreographer Robyn Orlin produces theatrical fireworks with an outrageous and exuberant performance from traditional healer and flamboyant performer Albert Khoza. Living in modern South Africa, Khoza explores questions which Orlin poses to a post-apartheid society. Humorous and provocative, this cheeky work offers us a glimmer of hope while challenging our preconceptions.

In the hypnotic universe of Ion, Greek choreographer Christos Papadopoulos asks, Why is group synchronicity so alluring? What compels birds to flock in a limitless sky? Ten dancers explore the power of group dynamics, the sharing of a common rhythm, the sixth sense of belonging. This minimalistic piece offers a poetic reflection on the natural order of things and the unspoken rules which often escape us.

This year’s programme will feature a first – an Artificial Intelligence Artist. ‘Born’ in 2017, Dancing Artificial Intelligence (DAI) is more than a robot– it learns through experience. DAI is learning how to move by exploring its body and its environment, and by observing the gestures of the people it encounters, including visitors to the Science Gallery during DAI’s time in Dublin as part of the Festival. Ultimately, it is hoped that DAI will learn how to dance.

Revolutionary NYC-based artist Yvonne Rainer will be in Dublin for an historic conversation about her career as part of a special programme at IMMA. The programme will include three of her iconic early dance works from the 60’s, with each event including a pre-performance talk offering audiences deeper insight into the works of this pioneering artist.

Baroque still life painting is the starting point for the playful (b)reaching stillness from choreographer Lea Moro. Three bodies, naked from the waist up, lie motionless on a blue floor. They begin to stir… With tiny, subtle and ornate movements, they use everything they have to render visible the lifeblood that runs through their beating bodies, as Gustav Mahler’s dramatic Resurrection Symphony begins.

Ali Chahrour-Leila's Death-Photo Dominique Houcmant - Dublin Dance Festival

Leila’s Death from choreographer and performer Ali Chahrour delves into the tradition of professional Shi’ite mourners who give voice to sadness and loss at funerals and burials in South Lebanon. Vocals by Leila are woven with live music from “Two and the Dragon” and dance by Chahrour, transforming a funeral into a grand and joyful event. An experience that, while perhaps unfamiliar in content, is universal in emotion.


A new Lolita, reflections around the 8th and first looks at new Irish work

Junk Ensemble are known for their imaginative and brave dance-theatre work, with recent productions including 2017’s celebrated Soldier Still. At DDF2018 they will premiere their immersive new work Dolores, inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s poetic and disturbing novel Lolita, offering a powerful, uncompromising new take on the story. Featuring a cast of acclaimed Irish and international performers including actor Mikel Murfi and performance artist Amanda Coogan, Dolores gives voice to three distinct aspects of the character: the neglected and traumatised child, the candy-fed girl filled with American hopes and dreams, and the enraged woman full of fire and revenge.

DDF2018 is delighted to present an extended version of Liz Roche Company’s powerful Wrongheaded, which emerged amidst the call to repeal the 8th Amendment and premiered at the 2016 Dublin Fringe Festival. In this acclaimed work, dance performances are propelled by the fiercely spoken words of Galway poet Elaine Feeney, interwoven with the exquisite work of filmmaker Mary Wycherley, composer Ray Harman and lighting designer Stephen Dodd, ultimately offering a refuge from the debate and a space to consider the issues from a new perspective.

Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company - Merlin - Photo Alex Iseli

First Looks offers Irish and international dance presenters, as well as audience members, a chance to view new works-in-development by Ireland-based artists. An initiative of Dublin Dance Festival and Culture Ireland, this year’s programme is a mixed bill of three studio-sharings including Archipelagic Thinking by Ruairí Donovan, Merlin from Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company (pictured above) and Fragments by Jessie Keenan.


Dance at the Ark for audiences 7+, a playful project for children and their grandparents, and the adrenaline-rush that is the Top 8 Street Dance Battle

At the Ark, Philippe Saire’s magical Hocus Pocus for audiences 7+creates a playful game of appearance and disappearance, suspending our disbelief and unleashing our imagination. Two brothers dive into dreamlike adventures: a contortionist’s escape from a spider’s web; a journey in a damaged flying machine; and underwater encounters with fabulous aquatic creatures.

Commissioned by Bealtaine, Emma O’Kane’s A Life of Play, part of Bealtaine @Temple Bar, is a creative dance and play project for children aged 5–10 and their older family members aged 50+. This fun, free, CoisCéimBROADREACH project is open to all (no dance experience necessary!) and will culminate in an invitation to everyone to play outdoors together in Meeting House Square.

Top 8 Street Dance Battle-Photo Jekaterina Goidina - Dublin Dance Festival

The hugely popular Top 8 Street Dance Battle will see the best Irish and international street dancers battle it out in Meeting House Square. Contestants in the Street Dance Battle will show off their talents in Breaking, Hip-Hop and Krump, having earned their places at qualifying heats earlier in the day. This celebration of street dance culture will also feature special performances by the competition judges, guest turntable and beatbox artists and live painting by Irish graffiti artists in an exhilarating experience for the whole family.


Artificial Intelligence & an all-male comic ballet company

This year two films will be screened in the Dance on Film programme. As robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) become increasingly prevalent, Akram Khan’s thought-provoking documentary Can We Live With Robots? explores questions around their impact on human relationships. Travelling the world, Khan meets with scientists and their AI creations, with the film concluding with an exhilarating duet performed by Khan and Ching-Ying Chien. Bobbi Jo Hart’s Rebels on Pointe is the story of the world-famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all-male comic ballet company which has a diverse cult following around the globe, founded in the 1970s on the heels of New York’s Stonewall riots.


Residencies are part of the festival’s commitment to nurturing and championing Irish dance artists, during and beyond the festival dates.

Dublin Dance Festival - Liz Roche 2018 - Photo Luca Truffarelli

Liz Roche Company is in its second year as DDF Company in Residence (2017-2019) with a busy schedule for 2018, when it will be presenting three new works – a new commission for the Goethe-Institut; Pilgrimage, presented for Cork Midsummer Festival as part of One Here Now: The Brian O’Doherty / Patrick Ireland Project with Sirius Arts Centre Cobh, and a major new work, I/Thou, commissioned, co-produced and presented by Cork Opera House. Wrongheaded will also tour nationally and be performed at Edinburgh Fringe. The company’s Ideas Interchange events will develop further this year, as will their Active Audience initiative.

Philippa Donnellan is dance artist in residenceat axis, Ballymun 2017–2018, and is exploring stories and experiences about work, with a dance theatre performance BODY OF WORK / What’s the story? taking place in axis during DDF18.


The festival will be offering a range of initiatives for people keen to learn more about dance, with events both during and outside the festival dates.

Prior to the festival, the Abbey Theatre will be home to Open Studio, a creative lab bringing together a range of perspectives and methodologies around connecting to younger audiences and participants through dance, performance and live art. Young people and artists from diverse backgrounds will take part in four days of workshops, seminars and scratch events exploring the potential of future programmes, including work co-curated by young people for young people. The event will explore the potential of digital platforms within performance, children and risk-based practice, and youth and gender activism.

Dublin Dance Festival 2018

The successful Fast Track to Dance programme is back for its sixth year, the ideal platform for those who have not been exposed to much dance but are curious to explore what it’s all about, with three days of performances, discussions, and direct access to artists. This year DDF coincides with the Annual Conference of Irish Geographers held at Maynooth University. As part of the conference, choreographer Fearghus Ó Conchúir will host a panel on Dance and Geography to discuss topics including bodies in Ireland, dance & place-making and dance & borders. Junk Ensemble will present two symposia arising from their new work Dolores, entitled The Book and the Body, one taking place in Galway and one in Dublin. These two complementary events will focus on the representation and misrepresentation of the body within literature and performance. In partnership with Science Gallery Dublin as part of their FAKE exhibition, Slovenian artist Janez Janša will give a talk about his 2007 performance Fake It!, a dance piece based on famous choreographies by other artists, which was created in response to the lack of access to acclaimed international dance performances in post-communist Slovenia. DDF will partner with Theatre Forum for the second year on a Developing Audiences initiative to support venue managers in developing audiences, especially for dance, with facilitated group sessions, and meetings with Irish dance artists and producers.

There will be opportunities to learn from dancers and choreographers featured in the programme, with Master Classes given by Christos Papadopoulos, Ali Chahrour and dancers from the English National Ballet and Top 8 Street Dance Workshops curated by Tobi Omoteso.

Dublin Dance Festival’s promise is as purposeful as it is joyful. This year’s artists are offering strong images of protest, hope and compassion, coming together in the struggle against all kinds of apathy. We wish audiences a thrilling journey and experiences that challenge perceptions.”

Benjamin Perchet – DDF18 Artistic Director

To find out more about ticketing and the programme for the 2018 edition of Dublin Dance Festival, please visit the official festival website

another grey line
All images courtesy Dublin Dance Festival; lead image Liz Roche ‘Wrongheaded’, photo by Ewa Figaszewska; Akram Khan’s Giselle – photo by Laurent Liotardo; Yvonne Rainer photo by Daniel Assayag; Oona Doherty’s Hard To Be Soft – photo by Luca Truffarelli; Ali Chahrour Leila’s Death – photo by Dominique Houcmant; Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company – Merlin – photo by Alex Iseli; Top 8 Street Dance Battle – photo by Jekaterina Goidina; Liz Roche – photo by Luca Truffarelli

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