Mary Conlon: Isolde Donohoe.

Stormy Sky Dance, a performance with: OSB (oriented strand board), wood, braked castor wheels, ice, fabric dye, 200 thread count cotton sheets, polyester duvet sections, staples, plywood sheet, MDF (medium-density fibreboard), carriage bolts, roofing bolts, polyester thread, steel masonry nails, elastic lurex, polycotton socks, cotton t-shirt, polycotton zip-up hoodie, cotton knickers, cotton bra, cotton trousers, and artist’s body.

Isolde Donohoe cites animated science-fantasy and radical choreography as key influences in her practice. From the ageless alien warriors who project feminine humanoid forms in Steven Universe to masterclasses with Marguerite Donlon and the late Rosemary Butcher at Dance Limerick, the artist’s transdisciplinary research has informed a distinct approach to visual art performance, in order to “physicalize (her) gratitude for getting to exist.” Her words are heartfelt, surprising perhaps, and carry the power to shake even the most stubborn cynicism. Walking through the degree showcase at Limerick School of Art & Design, she becomes a familiar figure, as model, subject, and occasional participant in a range of projects by fellow students from different departments. Her experience already extends beyond LSAD to a recent collaboration for DUBH by Ceara Conway at Ormston House with EVA International, stand-out performances in I’ll sing you a song from around the town by Amanda Coogan at LCGA, and participation in the memorial day for Rosemary Butcher in the Present Tense at the Siobhán Davis Dance Studio in London.

The performance begins and the energy in the room changes: Stormy Sky Dance has its own weather system. A modular, mobile stage moves low to the ground, cushioned in tie-dyed china blue, pewter grey and velvet black. Lying on the upside-down sky, the artist wears a matching costume: hoodie, t-shirt, trousers, knickers, bra. Body and object are one, as she swims through the space, performing the upbeat rhythm of choreographed movement, removing layers, and reciting her script on the “absolute magic of existence.” Stormy Sky Dance forms a trilogy of interconnected works, with Manifesto Dance and Flower Dance, inspired by a sort of reverse escapism theory. To paraphrase Rebecca Sugar (creator of Steven Universe), a fantasy world has a love affair with real life and all its beautiful, fascinating imperfections. There is something fundamental at play here, expressed with sheer sincerity, “life, life, here I come, here I am, and here I mostly want to be.”

Written by Mary Conlon

Mary Conlon is a curator based in Limerick City.