Performing the Archive 10 – 15 March 2014

is a week of conversations and performances at the House of Dance focusing on how we can use dance and its own specific knowledge to rethink history.

During the last couple of years we’ve experienced a huge interest among contemporary dance artists to look back at and work with historical dance pieces. Why do we turn to the past? What does it give to the future? What are the different means through which performance can engage with the past?

At the centre of this week we find two new works by Olga de Soto and Rani Nair, both dealing with works by the legendary choreographer Kurt Jooss, de Soto working with the masterpiece The Green table (1932) and Rani Nair dealing with the minor and least known work Dixit Dominus created in the 70’s. When we experience these two pieces next to one another for the first time, what might emerge?

To quote Anna Ångström, Svenska Dagbladet Scenvår 19th of February 2014, where she mentions these performances and finishes with the sentence, “Scenkonsten lever i nuet, men skulle vara fattig utan sin historia.”


Future Memory a performance by Rani Nair

14 – 15 March Lilla Scen, Dansens Hus

What does it mean to inherit a dance? German choreographer Kurt Jooss made his last piece Dixit Dominus in 1975 as a gift for Swedish-based Indian dancer Lilavati Häger, who gave it to Rani Nair to reconstruct in 2003. Future Memory (2012) returns to Dixit, this time focusing not on the choreography but on the stories around it. It is a second-order performance — a performance about a performance — that uses the personal responsibilities of inheritance to move towards larger questions of history, memory, and legacy. A review from the premiere described it as combining “Humor, warmth, and intellectual sharpness, all in one.” With a combination of gentleness and challenge, Future Memory embraces the possibility of an alternative history, one in which a “minor” dance takes ten years of another artist’s life, and where insider and outsider are more complicated than we might think. Here both identity and dance history are understood not in terms of Indian versus Western European, but in a hybrid way that uses real and imagined archives to allow for shades of Indianness, Swedishness, and Germanness. 

Nair’s one-hour solo uses dance, spoken text, film, and singing in more and less spectacular forms. There are moments when audiences are invited to touch and smell. And there is a duett  between a hair-dryer and a costume that was never worn in performance.


An Introduction a documentary performance by Olga de Soto

12-13 March Lilla Scen, Dansens Hus

Following the traces of The Green Table

After having been immersed in the memories of spectators who had attended the première of The Young Man and Death, in June 25th, 1946 at Théâtre des Champs Elysées, in Paris, in her performance histoire(s), Olga de Soto pursues her project of creation which two principal vectors are the History of Dance and perception. She focuses her vision on Kurt Jooss’s legendary work The Green Table, premièred in Paris in July 3rd 1932, a piece that is considered as a fundamental work of Dance History owing to the themes it deals with: the rise of fascism and war.

During her research, many questions began to emerge: What traces remain in the memory of the people who created a show, a long time ago, or in the memory of those who, through their work, enable it to continue to exist today? What does transmission involve? What does it mean to be a dancer? What are the place and role of dancers in the History of Dance? How does a dance piece evolve within its own history? And within world History? What is the impact of a politically engaged work in the memory of an audience?The subjects that the choreographer tackled in this project include the spectators’ memories, the critical perception, the interpretation, the transmission, and the many questions about Kurt Jooss’s company at the time, a company which came from Germany, won a choreographic contest in France and then found themselves forced into exile in England before the war began.

The New Man, Four Exercises in utopian Movements by LIGNA

12-15 March Stora Scen, Dansens Hus

After the shock of the First World War and the final breakdown of the bourgeois concept of art, very different artists looked for a new function for their art, searching for a new relation to life and society. LIGNA’s performance ‘The New Man’ explores three different positions - with a fourth which cuts across the others.

The poet Bertolt Brecht develops the Lehrstueck for a state without classes, where the gestures, social positions and by that the society as a whole come into play. The dancer Rudolf von Laban proposes Bewegungschoere, choirs of movement, in which the collective vibrations disperse power itself. The director Wsewolod Meyerhold experiments in the young Sovjet Union with biomechanical exercises for his actors to renew their bodies and by that shape a new kind of subjectivity. Finally the comedian Charlie Chaplin stumbles across all of these utopian visions and their promises.

‘The New Man’ is a performance without actors and stage. There is nothing to see except for the activity of the visitors. They are listening to a radio play, that not only deals with the four aesthetic positions mentioned above, but proposes gestures and movements according to the different blueprints of the new man. ‘The New Man’ calls for turning the production of gestures and movements into a public, collective affair.

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rani_nair_2Rani Nair - Foto samt bild förstasidan: Imre Zsibrik