Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer
Hard to be Soft – A Belfast Prayer is a detailed description of everyday life in Northern Ireland and a portrait of its working class, their toughness and their vulnerability. Using a direct narrative style, the dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty, Spotlight Artist at this year’s festival, explores machismo, the roles of women, class identity, religion, sexuality, anger and resistance – based on memories of her own youth in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
“If you’re in a shit-hole but you look fucking amazing, there’s something really empowering about that,” the voiceover of one young woman and her friends known as “The Sugar Army” tells us. They are the real superstars of this often stagnant city because they put on their armour and get on with their everyday lives.
This four-part dance piece communicates the boundless but brittle energy of Belfast. Dancing with a powerful combination of brutal defiance and restrained tenderness, Oona Doherty and her nine dancers are accompanied by a group of young dancers from Wiesbaden, that underlines the beauty and horror that persist as remnants of the Northern Ireland troubles, of a conflict between religions and identities. It is their attempt to overcome this legacy through their own movement and sweat.