Five unmissable performances at the Venice Dance Biennale 2023

Silhouette of dancers on stage.

This week sees the start of one of Venice’s main cultural events: the Venice Dance Biennale, a festival showcasing the best of contemporary dance from around the world. This year, the theme is ‘Altered States’ and reflects how dance has the power to alter our own state of mind. 

So what can you expect to see if you’re lucky enough to be in Venice with tickets for this prestigious event? Here’s our roundup of what we expect will be the talking points:

Simone Forti

The Venice Dance Biennale features an exhibition showcasing the incredible career of Simone Forti, a leading figure in the world of contemporary dance over the last six decades. As a movement artist, Forti is known for groundbreaking projects such as Dance Constructions, which first debuted in 1961. Her work favours improvisation and natural movements as opposed to structured choreography. She’s also this year’s winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, the biggest award at the event.

Oona Doherty

Oona Doherty is an award-winning choreographer from Northern Ireland. Her work, driven by political and social issues, is exciting to watch. For the Venice Dance Biennale, Doherty will deliver an atmospheric and compelling performance called Navy Blue. It features 12 dancers that start off conventionally, moving together harmoniously before transforming into something rather unsettling.

Lucy Geurin and Matthias Schack-Arnott

Geurin (an Australian choreographer) and Schack-Arnott (a percussive artist and composer) have created a unique performance installation featuring an expanse of suspended, swinging pendulum bells. Dancers weave in and out between them, hurling and catching them to activate rhythmic music driven by motion.

Michael Keegan-Dolan

Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan and the Teac Damsa company are presenting a powerful show called Mám, the name meaning ‘mountain pass’ in Gaelic. Just like a mountain pass connects two different sides of a mountain, this performance is inspired by how life’s polarities can connect to find a solution.

Botis Seva | BLKDOG

BLKDOG is a gripping and theatrical hip-hop dance performance from Botis Seva, which has previously won an Olivier Award. The production, featuring dancers from Seva’s company, Far From The Norm, shines a light on how today’s black youth is trying to cope in a world they don’t recognise. The piece is about surviving adulthood as a childlike artist and draws on Seva’s own memories and experiences.


Want to learn more about the Venice Dance Biennale 2023? View the entire programme here. If you liked this article, you’ll also enjoy our podcast roundup for dance companies and entrepreneurs. For more on arts and culture, here’s a list of key cultural events to bookmark in 2023.

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