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Dance/Ballet Performance

Navy blue by Oona Doherty – Sadler’s Wells (Dance Umbrella Festival)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dance Umbrella Festival 2022 continues with yet another thoroughly gripping, disturbing show. The award-winning choreographer Oona Doherty creates a multidimensional piece, which takes the audience on a journey through perspectives, moods, time, music, and poetry, all in a metaphorical navy blue colour. 

“Navy Blue” presents 12 dancers on the stage, dressed in workers’ navy blue outfits. It starts with highlighting the unity and synchronisation, just to put a spotlight on imperfections, the feeling of insignificance, and finally the meaning of living here and now on Earth ( and these are just some of the thoughts and themes I felt while watching it – pretty packed for a 1-hour show). 

The performance starts with a ballet piece accompanied by classical music – and that’s the only moment when I felt strong hope and positivity during “Navy Blue”. From there, the show spirals into a sorrowful, at times brutal expression, and only brings back a little beacon of hope by the very end. 

Navy Blue case, Credit Sinje Hasheider and Dajana Lothert

“Navy Blue” puts the audience into a moody hypnosis state and keeps it going for almost one hour of the show. It wakes the emotions up at times, like when the loud “bang” shots and “kills” the dancers one by one, and you can’t help but jump in your seat. Or when, later on in a production, a recorded message points out the budget of the show, and the overwhelmingly specific cold numbers including lights design, projections design, and even childcare, wake you up from the trance with a cold shower. 

The performance is highlighted by an empty, spacious black entirety of Sadler’s Wells stage and two rows of light standing in the wings. Sparking blue projections are a pleasant visual feast during a shockingly still segment of the show. 

While leaving Sadler’s Well, I had a strong feeling that I was not fully sure how am I going to describe this feeling I had while watching “Navy Blue”. But I also felt that it’s OK to have an unknown, unexplained reaction to dance. It’s also OK to interpret it any way you wish, and only discover more interpretations as you speak to fellow audience members – as Oona Doherty mentioned during the Q&A.

Navy Blue, Credit Sinje Hasheider and Dajana Lothert

If you are a dance enthusiast or just thinking of starting a journey into dance, Dance Umbrella Festival would be an event you would find yourself comfortable with. I appreciate the post-show Q&A, which helps to understand some inspirations and concepts behind the show and gives me a chance to ask my questions. The discussion aids to dip toes into the dance shows but also conveys a strong message about the subjective factor of dance. You can read about another show performed at this year’s festival, “Reverie” – here.

If you want to challenge your senses, open your mind and just enjoy some bloody good choreography – grab a ticket to one of Dance Umbrella’s events (available live but also online – details here).


Oona Doherty – Navy Blue

Choreography: Oona Doherty
Music: Sergeï Rachmaninoff and Jamie xx
Projection Artist: Nadir Bouassria
Lighting designers: John Gunning
Production: Gabrielle Veyssiere, LEAD
Writer collaborator: Bush Moukarzel
Dancers: Amancio Gonzalez Miñon, Andréa Moufounda, Arno Brys, Louise Gourvelec, Hilde Ingeborg Sandvold, Joseph Simon, Mathilde Roussin, Ryan O’Neill, Sati Veyrunes, Thibaut Eiferman, Tomer Pistiner, Zoé Lecorgne, Doublure Magdalena Öttl.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Navy Blue by Oona Doherty - Sadler's Wells (Dance Umbrella Festival)
Author Rating
Navy blue by Oona Doherty
Starting on
October 21, 2022
Sadler's Wells,London,

Zuzanna Chmielewska

Digital Marketer by profession, published travel book author, avid theatre goer and an amateur Malaysia tour guide in my free time. Find me in one of London's theatres, travelling in Asia or cooking and photographing new recipes in my kitchen. I would try anything once (at least!). My theatre blog:



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