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Oona Doherty wins The Silver Lion award

Mon 8 March 2021

Venice Biennale recognises the TL alum’s ‘raw and unorthodox’ approach and ability to ‘communicate across boundaries’ in the 2021 Lion Awards for Dance.

Italian arts festival La Biennale Di Venezia has announced that Northern-Irish dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty is the recipient of The Silver Lion, an annual prize celebrating talented emerging artists.

The award has been made on the recommendation of Trinity Laban’s Professor of Choreography and director of the festival’s Dance Department, Wayne McGregor.

As the winner of The Silver Lion 2021, Oona will present Hard to Be Soft – A Belfast Prayer at the 15th International Festival of Contemporary Dance of La Biennale di Venezia (23 July – 1 August 2021). The work, which grew out of a solo piece created in 2016, has defined her choreographic career since premiering at Dance Umbrella and Edinburgh Fringe and was named the Guardian’s top dance show of 2019.

A searingly honest and compelling voice, Oona’s work examines gender, identity and religion. She rose to prominence with her electrifying debut solo Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus.

Wayne McGregor comments –

“Doherty’s interests, passions and singular outlier instincts 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”.

Oona completed her Postgraduate Diploma Dance Performance at Trinity Laban as part of Transitions Dance Company, graduating in 2010.

Discover more about studying dance at Trinity Laban.

Image: Oona Doherty, Hard To Be Soft (credit Luca Truffarelli)