State and sound

Norwegian choreographer Ingri Fiksdal looks at dance rituals through time, with spectacular costumes by Danish designer Henrik Vibskov.

The performance State starts with a serving of aquavit. A lady dressed in black hands out plastic cups and fills them with liquor as we, the audience, find our seats. We are placed in a circle surrounding the stage, which makes this a rather pleasant setup. On the floor in front of us four people are hiding under big pieces of cloth and gradually begin to move under them. They look like primitive animals as they come crawling closer and closer and suddenly lean in against you, like a pet.

Ingri Fiksdal and director Jonas Corell Petersen have described the performance as an exploration of how rituals of movement form both actual states and states of mind. Photo by Anders Lindén. Costumes by Henrik Vibskov.

Gradually, a number of dance rituals take place in front of us: dervish dancing, classical ballet, military parades and probably several other that I wasn’t able to identify. In fact, I can’t remember having seen a performance by Ingri Fiksdal with this much dancing in it (or what we recognize as dance). Still, it’s the way Fiksdal paints her moving images, not the dancing itself that makes this so interesting. What really heightens the experience, though, are the costumes by Henrik Vibskov, which are among the finest I’ve ever seen on a stage. They are, in truth, much more than costumes, they are dancers themselves, but they also indicate a change of scene as the dancers dress in tutus made of cotton felt or put on socks that make them look like soldiers in boots. Gradually the ballet skirts turn into swirling ball gowns before they slowly disintegrate. It’s both beautiful and powerful to look at.

Dancers Nuria Guiu Sagarra, Rosalind Goldberg, Rannei Grenne, Jeffrey Young og Louis Schou-Hansen. Photo by Anders Lindén. Costumes by Henrik Vibskov.

Fiksdal has always chosen her collaborators with great care. This time, she teams up with Danish director Jonas Corell Petersen, who is also in-house director at the National Theatre in Oslo. The music also plays an important role in all of Fiksdal’s performances, in fact, she often describes them as a mix between a dance performance and a concert. The music in State is composed by Lasse Marhaug and was for me by far the most demanding aspect of this performance. Not because it shakes you to the core, which is does, but due to the fact that it was turned up much too loud. Several people in the audience, including myself, had to stick their fingers in their ears. That’s not really a good starting point for experiencing performing arts.

After several costume changes, a refill of aquavit and some (highly awaited, I’m sad to say) moments of silence, a dancer is left alone on stage. She is dressed in a swirling cloak designed by Vibskov, left to herself. It was the strongest moment of the evening. State continues to grow on you once you’ve left the theatre and I would very much like to see it again. Next time I’ll bring earplugs.

State is performed at Black Box Theatre until October 23. at Oktoberdans in Bergen October 26.-27 and at Teaterhuset Avant Garden in Trondheim November 1.-2.

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