Dancing In Darkness: The Icelandic Dance Company Welcomes Winter - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Dancing In Darkness: The Icelandic Dance Company Welcomes Winter

Dancing In Darkness: The Icelandic Dance Company Welcomes Winter

Photos by
Art Bicknick
Jónatan Grétarsson
Íris Maria Stefansdóttir

Premiering in November at the arts festival Everybody’s Spectacular, The Best of Darkness by Erna Ómarsdóttir and Valdimar Jóhannsson is the final piece in a series of four works exploring the human body’s vulnerability in the absence of light. The pieces were created in collaboration with music by Sigur Rós and dancers from the Icelandic Dance Company.

Hungry Ghosts

Following in the footsteps of the duo’s prior works, the inception of this final installation stems from the idea of hungry ghosts. “There is this idea of a ‘hungry ghost’ that is always with you,” Valdimar explains. “It’s a ghost you have to feed. It wants more and more and you will never be happy unless you separate yourself from it.” The concept behind the hungry ghosts stems from Eastern lore. Not knowing what kind of nourishment would appease their needs, they are unable to satisfy their desires, doomed to eternally wander in empty chaos.

Improvisation as Adventure

Cigarette twirling between his fingers, Valdimar animates the evolution of the creative process. “When I see the dancers having a good day, you kind of get these goosebumps because you see suffering. But you see also contentment. You see the frailty of being human. Being human is quite complicated because you have no control over anything you want to do.”

“When I see the dancers having a good day, you kind of get these goosebumps because you see suffering. You see the frailty of being human.”

Valdimar’s own life traces the path of his words and works. Before entering the world of contemporary dance, Valdimar worked as a fisherman in the Arctic, a DJ and even performed as an extra in a German snowboard soap opera while living in Austria. Returning to Iceland, broke after his adventures around the world, he would take the first job that he could find. “That’s a common theme in my life,” he reveals with a smile. “I went to work at the docks, offloading trawlers while playing in a heavy metal band. At one point I was even breaking rotten fish heads.” The adventures of Valdimar continued after a friend, Jóhann Jóhannson, invited him to play guitar in a dance piece. “I went to France and played in this show called Mysteries of Love, where I met Erna. We now have two children and I became a contemporary dancer, among other things,” he explains.

Uncertainty as Inspiration

“You are never more alone than in complete darkness,” Valdimar elaborates. Whereas this could be a source of fear, the artist views the vulnerability of darkness as the foundation of exploration. “One of my favourite moments is when I close my eyes and dream because fantastic things happen in the dark,” he muses.

“Uncertainty is the best human trait.”

In life, as in the piece itself, uncertainty presents itself as a challenge that Valdimar resolves through his positivity. “Uncertainty is the best human trait,” he states. “I just take adventures where they lead me. Don’t think about it, just follow it. What would the point be if you don’t have adventures, man?”

See The Best of Darkness premiering on the 17th of November 2018. For more information about the performance, visit www.id.is/the-best-of-darkness


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