Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ruairí Donovan, 'WITCHES': Summer of Coven

Photo by Marcin Lewandowski

The Lough, Cork Midsummer Festival
Jun 21-24

A quick review of WITCHES coming up after the jump ...

Walking along a silent street, you stop to squint at your map under the amber glow of a nearby streetlight. The time is 3.45am. The pubs have since closed, and whatever souls are left wandering the town seem to be converging at the Lough where a distant figure is setting alight torches like great beacons.

Having taken our seats on the grass, a company of female dancers take position. Their slow, deep breathing forms a slow beat - one that builds exponentially. In an enduring feat they brutally expel oxygen from their lungs, their quickening, sharpening breaths cutting the wind until finally they strike through the air with almost witching levitation. 

This intense physicality vibrates with a seeming sacrifice of the body, and as dawn creeps in illuminating the dancers' faces as well as the occasional bird that zips into view, it's as if the scene is the creation of the powerful young women in front of us.

In fact, where the performance slags is its middle, after this intense exchange. The ensuing solo movements are hard to read for meaning and they don't grant much individuality to the performers either. As a result, it doesn't fully sustain.

But there's no denying the visceral image that meets us at the end with the dancers in their rawest forms. It unearths something ancient - goddesses of a past religion - and as you walk home, the newly arrived sunlight lighting your path, you carry with you a ceremony Irish and old.

What did everybody else think?


  1. How much nudity was there? In the promo images the witches were naked which seemed to be conforming to the stereotypes.


  2. The use of nudity was not superficial in my belief but had to do with the transformation of the performers in the space, towards that primal image at the end. It was actually quite visceral and in no way tacky.