Kathleen Doherty is a dance artist from Ireland and she works in Dublin and Ljubljana. She graduated from The Northern School of Contemporary Dance. As a dance artist she works for Dance Theatre of Ireland, Ffin Dance (Wales), Irish Modern Dance Theatre. She also works as a rehearsal director in Threads Dance, London. In Sofia, she did in July 2013 a contemporary dance workshop аt Derida Dance Centre and presented her third solo work “Chasing Shadows” in the frame of the Centre’s residency programme. In interview by Elena Angelova.

As a dance artist how do you perceive the connection between physical and emotive body?

I always try to work at the limits of physicality and this connection exists for me when I work with myself. This is my overall aim – to do a piece about vulnerability. Then I go into the studio and I improvise, I create movements and for me the connection then is doing that movement with the understanding that vulnerability is my aim. So the way of going through movement is emotive. The physicality within it comes from that. I think that you can take every movement and input an emotion. You can have that emotion and it changes the movement, the quality of the movement. So, my aim is to be as physical as possible and as honest, emotionally, as possible. And then these two connect.

You work also as a rehearsal director. You talk about your own body, but how do you cope with another type of physicality?

It’s different when you talk about someone else’s body. For me, as a rehearsal director, I see a person and then I have to figure it out. It’s like a puzzle, I have to unlock what’s stopping them of not doing the movement fully and to fill it fully. So, it’s a lot about talking to somebody, to find what they need in order to be able to get that level.

This is very connected to psychology, maybe?

Yes, this is making somebody feel comfortable as a dancer – to allow themselves to be pushed physically harder without worrying “Oh, I’m gonna hurt myself” or make them feel safe.

I’ve watched a video of one of your works – “Broken Warmth”. It has a kind of dream quality, it’s not like a “staged piece”.

No, I like staging big works, but for my own art I prefer to say what I can say and… I’m a dreamer. I think in a very intensive, destructive way, so what I feel I have to give is actually showing a part of my world. So, anything else that I try to do wouldn’t be honest.

Scene from”Chasing Shadows” at Derida Dance Centre

Yes, like you’re entering a space of intimacy…

Yes, very much so. I think, as a dancer, as an artist I have a responsibility to give something to the audience. I feel it’s like to draw you into my world and maybe that will give you an idea or a feel of something, it maybe uplifting for you, or just a moment of peace. That’s what I aim to do.

Would you describe in short your solo dance project “Chasing Shadows”? How would you put it in frames – as dance theatre, a performance or a contemporary dance piece?

I have no idea. I’m really sorry. It’s not dance theatre. I usually go for contemporary dance like improvisations. I work for companies, doing that. I prefer to dance, really dance.

What type of dance technique do you use in your work?

Technique is like learning a language and using that language in order to be safe physically, so it’s about being true to your body. Technique is a platform from which you can use or not to structure ideas.

How do you combine individuality and technique?

For me, because I do a lot of work for different companies, I think it’s really important to remember the need of technical training. So, I try to push myself both emotionally and technically. I think that if you fully abandon technique, you lose a lot of people who don’t understand your thought process or how contemporary dance works. I think, it’s important to have something that people do recognize.

You work in different countries – Ireland, Slovenia, United Kingdom… What are your observations of the development of independent art productions in these countries’ cultural context?

My friend and I went to watch a fire show and it was very spectacular and the audience was like “ Wow, that’s great”, but there is no content. So, I think that we have a responsibility – we don’ have to be only entertainers, but also we have to fill the gap between commercial and contemporary. We lose too many people because of being too intelligent. I think that we, especially in a time like this, when everybody is depressed, stressed, upset and angry, we, performers, have to uplift, to give, to make something more of life than the ordinary every-day. We have to come out of intellectual and be more emotive, more spectacular in some way… But we need to create a community, to talk more, to be together. We need to realize where we want to go, as a whole. We have to start thinking bigger than “I’m alone in the studio”… I also work alone in the studio, but everybody can come to class, everyone can just sit and watch my work. I would share what I can. I would be open with my creative process and it’s not mine. I wouldn’t be covered and fearful that somebody could steal my idea away… There is no such thing. Everything has been done. So, what we have to do is to take it and make it our own. It’s about taking an idea and being generous with it… This is something we’re holding back as a community of dancers across the world.

 Interview by Elena Angelova

The article is published in the rubric “The Independent Scene in Focus” maintained with the support of National Culture Fund.