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Variations on a Theme

Evening of Dance + Clarinet
ICC Salon, Festival of New Music
November 2022 

New Works composed by:

Gile na Gile by Donnchadh Mac Aodha HellothanksforcallingNikedotcom by Luke Smyth

Undulation by Kellie O’Neill
Rockwell Automations Retro Encabulator by Kevin Free

Pervasive by Santiago Kodela
this is a piece about toxic positivity by Oisín Dilger

Performed by:

Paul Roe, Clarinet

Laura Sarah Dowdall, Choreography + Performance

In collaboration with Irish Composers Collective

Supported by The Arts Council of Ireland

Through a series of workshops and 1:1 mentoring sessions with the composers, Laura's role was to inspire them with a different perspective and approach as a dancer/performance maker, to explore the dramaturgy and visual elements of their work and to engage in a collaborative process to create an immersive and engaging evening of their works.

As Guest Artist of the ICC Festival, Laura also facilitated a 4 hour Embody Lab and Open Jam event for musicians and performers to gain an insight into performance making, contemporary dance and group improvisation.

Review of the Evening by David Grant:

In the very intimate setting of Unit 44 in Stoneybatter last Saturday evening (November 19th), I felt I was present at something very special. It was innovative, thought provoking, interactive and highly enjoyable. Not least among the factors contributing to the evening being a stimulating and entertaining experience were the beautifully executed choreography and dramatic setting of Laura Sarah Dowdall and the brilliantly dynamic playing of Paul Roe on B-flat and bass clarinets. 

One definitely had the sense that this presentation of highly creative pieces was very much a collaborative affair between performers and composers Donnchadh Mac Aodha, Luke Smith, Kelly O’Neill, Kevin Free, Santiago Kodela and Oisín Dilger, the collaboration ultimately extending to us, the audience, with invitations to participate at various times throughout the pieces.  As a result, much fun was had by all, without it in any way detracting from the gravitas of some of the subject matter. Indeed, this contrast of light and dark served to bring it out even more powerfully.

Although the music was obviously scored and the movements choreographed, there was a comfortable looseness which allowed and created a feeling of improvisation and playfulness throughout, albeit held within the structure of the pieces.

It was very clear to see that the venue itself and we, the audience, very much influenced the way in which the pieces were presented that evening. It will be very interesting to see how different surroundings and conditions will colour and direct future performances.


- David Grant is a musician and theatre professional based in Dublin.

This evening work is available to be booked for your festival or event - for information contact,




A visceral dialogue of dance, sound and sight. An immersion into a tactile, imagined and experienced presence awaits.

Laura Sarah Dowdall’s work as artist-in-residence at a Dublin DeafBlind centre results in this daring exploration of the role of the senses, inviting you to find fresh vision and become a part of this investigative journey into metaphorical and physical blindness.


Debuted in Ireland at Smock Alley in 2015.

Extract performed as the opening performance of the Choreographic showcase in Boston, USA in February 2016. 

New Interactive Immersive Performances developed during Laura's Dance Artist Residency at RUA RED in 2017.


Irish Radio Interview on ART BEAT- listen by clicking here!

Project website:



David Keane- The Reviews Hub

“Dowdall’s performance vacillated between ecstasy and despair, and she was a visual feast in pure flowing white. Accompanied by O’Braoin, as well as what sounded like synthetic elements, Dowdall was mesmerising and hypnotic as she expressed the dichotomy of loss and gain when the senses are disrupted.

Running Blind is an intriguing performance with Dowdall and O’Braoin being above par in their respective fields. It deftly served its purpose of highlighting the impact a change in the senses can have on a person both physically and emotionally, and did so with beauty and grace.”


Tatiana Lobza- Dance Reviewer

“Laura’s movements were mesmerizing and flawless making you part of something special and intimate – the world you don’t explore or see every day... you feel the strength and  more confident steps, emotions, light and darkness, momentous joy and realization of reality. Laura is magnificent to watch.

Running Blind is beautiful in every way. It’s emotional and very, very real. The production is indeed very immersive thanks to many cleverly thought out details. It uses the raw beauty of the set and live sounds to create the right atmosphere to carry you through what is a very unique experience.


Sharing of Work at Echo Echo Dance Festival and Dance Theatre of Ireland, Dublin 2015: 


From October - December 2015, with the support of Create Ireland's 'Artist in the Community' award, I further investigated my creative practice and movement research through my collboration with the Anne Sullivan for the the DeafBlind. I taught weekly movement classes and got to know and observe the residents and their keyworkers within this setting. During this period I excavated the materials and experiences of this collaboration as dancer in residence at Dance Theatre of Ireland.


As part of the development period I was invited to share my work in progress in Echo Echo Festival in Derry and at Dance Theatre of Ireland. This work is an investigation into metaphorical and physical over-reliance on sight and the vulnerabilities of sensory deprivation. An immersive audience experience based on a three month residency working with deafblind participants and on-going research into the search for present moment awareness in the unrelenting pace of an increasingly complex interface of mind and media. A work of spoken word, song, improvised movement, scored structures, sensory stimulation and audience engagement.


derry wip 2
aud derry_edited
derry showing
derry 3

Movement Research, May 2015:


My artistic practise has been focused on moving with sensorial awareness with focused research into how our movement, sense of space and relationship to others and our environment alters when the sense of sight or sound is deprived. In March of  2015, I initiated a project called “Running Blind”.


I led research labs with dancers and actors exploring this concept through task based exercises such as blind-walks through the city, blind-learning of movement through touch and the affect of sensorial deprivation. We investigated the role of eye contact, the comfort that closed-eyes can create: to relinquish insecurity, soothe fear, focus the mind, enables deeper listening, inner awareness and its ability to manifest present-moment awareness and heightened sensory experience. We explored the over-use of sight and how assumptions can be instantly created through vision and the common usage of the word blind in metaphors relating to ignorance, deceit and vulnerability.


The novel “Blindness” by Portuguese nobel prize winner José Saramago acted as an informative reference for highlighting moral, social, emotional and mental shifts that can occur when the sense of sight disappears and how this reframes our reality. 

Laura Dowdall Studio Video Stills (5 of 8)
RB lab1

SCREEN-DANCE:  'Between' with Olya Rada, 2015


Collaboration between Olya Rada, Russian-German filmmaker and choreographer, dancer Laura Sarah Dowdall. Set in Vernet Les Bains, Pyrennes. Special thanks to Colin Claverie and Mathilde Ricklin.

Olya is based in Kiel, Germany. She makes surrealistic short films, music and dance videos. 



“Les visites font toujours plaisir, si ce n'est en arrivant, du moins en partant.”

Jean de La Bruyère ; Les Caractères, De la société (1668)



entre nous

between places, inner spaces,

lives past, moments lost,


colours you,

still remains true


aspects, mirror, reflect

carry, marry, tarry


roles, phases, life stages

disperse, reveal, conceal


choisissez toujours

entre nous:


choose between

you and you.


-laura sarah dowdall

Collaborative Project:  'The Sea', 2014



The story centres on a young, unmarried woman at the beginning of the 19th century. When we meet her, she is on the beach. Her gown lies on the shore and she is dressed in light undergarments. It is winter and early evening. It is very cold. She is pregnant. Our proposed piece is about her last few minutes, after which, she ends her life and the life of her unborn child. In an age that offered few choices to women, she has found an empowered certainty in her decision to die. She has chosen to not subject herself to the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy, the threat of social ostracization and the likelihood of a miserable isolated existence.The Sea strongly refers to the element of water. Comparisons were drawn between the water of the sea, the water our bodies consist of, the water of baptism and the water that quenches the fire of passion. We are surrounded with fluid in the womb, our waters break when we are about to give birth and in the catholic faith, we are baptised with holy water. The composition of the piece centres on one woman’s personal ceremony, birth, baptism and death. She is returning to her origins before birth and entering a similar world of water as the child in her womb. This poses the question is it a rebirth, a death, or both?




















The main objective of this piece is to highlight the shame, social stigma, danger and isolation women have faced in the past and continue to experience in the 21st century when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. It was not initially our intention to make this piece a statement on the rights of women, abortion or suicide. It was quite simply the story of a woman who felt that the only option open to her was to end her life and the life of her unborn baby. However in light of our research and open dialogue on the topic we realize that this taboo topic, shrouded in secrecy and darkness, deserves to be openly discussed and acknowledged. Main topics explored during the creative process:-Taboo topic of unplanned pregnancy, feeling of isolation, familial preference for denial, ‘brush it under the carpet’ attitude-Many women still secretly go abroad for abortion to this day- Exercising the right to be publicly heard- Disintegration of the romantic ideal- Social & moral affects of traditional education and church teachings.


While the topics of suicide and abortion are widely covered in the media, we feel that there is still a distance and discomfort amongst people to openly discuss them. The period in which this piece is set relates to a time in the 1900s when women had limited choice in the event of a pregnancy outside marriage. This piece explores the emotional impact of one woman’s decision to end her life due to the realities of the time she was living in. Throughout the creative process we realised that although there are many options available today, there still exists a shroud of secrecy, shame and guilt. The highly sensitive and complex subject matter of this piece is offering the audience an opportunity to consider this dilemma this woman faces and view it from her perspective.


Through the cross-disciplinary fields of movement, music, photography, film and poetry we wish to convey the potency and poignancy of this woman’s choice. This is a dilema that women have faced throughout the ages and continue to face today. This original production aspires to bring the audience on an experiential journey into the psyche of this woman and her emotional experience in the last few moments of her life. Through lighting , sound and visual efects as well as live performance and musical composition, we seek to provoke a sensorial reaction within the viewer.





















Collaborating Artists 


Laura Sarah Dowdall is an independent performance artist, dancer, actor and improviser. Laura has spent the last few years in the artistic hub of Berlin, performing and investigating new developments in the field of dance and performance art. With a background in drama, classical ballet and contemporary dance, Laura’s current collaborative developments lie in the realm of  performance art, improvisation and site-specific journeys, working with artists of diverse and experimental interests and background. 


Sara Weis is a musician and composer. She studied performance art at the Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College Dublin and has trained with many well known vocalists throughout Europe. As the daughter of an orchestral musician and actor, she grew up in the atmosphere of music and theatre. Sarah was awarded a scholarship to study piano at the college of music. The inspiration for this production stems from the lyrical story of the character portrayed in her composition ‘The Sea’.


Keith Mannix is a film-maker and director. Although always interested in and practising Music, Literature and the Arts, it was in Unversity, while studying English and Philosophy that he first encountered Film as a true art. Having graduated and travelled, Keith returned to Ireland studied, and set up Manx Productions in 2006. In 2007, he wrote, directed, edited, scored, and produced his first short film, Death in the West (2007), winning the Claire Lynch award at the Cork Film festival.


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