The dance going began in earnest Wednesday night with the opening performance of ICEhot by Heine Avdal & Yukiko Shinozaki in the Dansens Hus conveniently located behind our hotel. Artists and presenter from 28 countries are here to experience works from Iceland, Finland, Denmark. Norway and Sweden. The bar was bustling before the show with a confab of international festival goers. This first work was elaborate with miles of silver fabric curtains suspended from giant helium physio ball type balloons. The curtains did much of the dancing throughout the 60+ minutes while creating a beautiful shimmering effect. There was much technical wizardry on display with self propelled balloons and curtains floating over our heads.
Each morning began with a info session, More More More, in which five choreographers talk about their work and showed video excerpts. This was a valuable component of the festival for those of us looking to learn more about emerging artists. Along with several U.S. colleagues, I have invited here to identify a Nordic artist to bring to BDF for a creative residency.
Among our group are seven U.S. artists including Zoe Scofield who I got to catch up with over a splendid breakfast (included with our room at the hotel). Foodie that I am, I was in heaven with the delicious and plentiful spread of lox, smoked fish, cheeses, breads, fruit and on and on. This is our real meal of the day since everything here is so wildly expensive — $40 for a hamburger and beer, $5 for coffee and so forth — and we are running from one performance to the next all day long.
Over the course of four days I have seen 16 shows. Its been a rapid fire education on the state of Nordic dance or at least those selected to present at this platform. Several elements seemed to recur… smoke is very popular, the use of a hip hop vocabulary either woven through a contemporary sensibility or straight up, durational work quite often too long, electronic scores (everyone is using them–what ever happened to natural sound?), a fascination with awkward, clumsy movement, and terrific dancers.
Among the many performances there were four that stood out for me (all art being subjective). Zero Visibility Corp from Norway presented “Terra O Motel” a 90- minute extravaganza complete with a mini 40’s type motel and neon sign as well as a variety set pieces, from a makeshift kitchen to bowls of potatoes and sleeping pads and pillows. This piece created a world of distinct characters living out their peculiar lives and quite grew on me as it progressed.
Tentacle Tribe of Sweden & Canada offered “Nobody Likes A Pixelated Squid” a beautifully executed, but too long duet a la Victor Quijada of Rubberbandance with whom they both danced. Gorgeous, sinewy partner work in a smoothed out hip hop style.
Ima Iduozee from Finland presented “This is the Title” a stunning solo incorporating hip hop with really skillful floor work, fine precision and luscious flow that reminded me of Omar Carrum’s Mobile Floor class.
Aloun Marchal from Sweden performed “Gerro, Minos and Him” a trio I dubbed, The Three Stooges Without Pants. A comic journey into the absurd–these three nutcases had a boatload of physical comedy skills and a go for broke daring. One dancer, in particular, had that rare gift of comic timing that kept many in the audience laughing throughout the 47 minute work. Whether this was one’s cup of tea or not, no one fell asleep during this show!
It has been a pleasure to be in attendance at ICEhot as it was so finely organized and we have been well taken care of. Buses carried us around to the distant venues but several were close enough to walk to. Many are in renovated industrial buildings like to National Academy of the Arts, a spectacular re-purposing. The neighborhood surrounding this building is charming and I enjoyed several lunches with colleagues from around the globe. Now its time to go home and ponder the experience!