“Crescendo”, the new work by the acclaimed choreographer Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, opens tonight at Tjarnarbíó. It is a conceptual piece, gentle and slow-paced, demanding the viewers’ full attention as they become immersed in the dreamy flow of a journey along with the trio of performers.
The piece reflects upon women’s collective physical labour. The series of repetitive, hypnotising movements on stage and the slow fades occurring between them are inspired by traditionally feminine occupations – processing fabric, cleaning, rocking children to sleep. The familiar intricacies of sewing, weaving and knitting are all to be found there, as well as common characteristics of working in line or transferring weight. Moving in unison, the three bodies become one entity, a symbol of the female community and bonding. They are also synchronising through sound, humming and singing softly together, as women have done for centuries.
“We live in a Post-Fordist society, where a lot of physical labour is done by machines instead of human bodies,” Katrín tells me. “That’s why it might be so moving to watch a dance performance – it is still a form of physical labour performed by a human being and it resonates,” she adds.
A quiet protest
The artist sees her piece as a metaphorical response to the fast pace and the loudness of the modern society. “There is a lot of shouting happening recently in the world and my work is about the opposite, it’s about listening and paying attention,” she explains. “I’m trying to amplify quietness, because I think that a time has come where it makes more sense to listen to those who are whispering, rather than to the ones who are screaming the loudest.”
She interprets the term of crescendo not as a loud, masculine climax, but as a quiet wave of change. For her, the performance doesn’t need an intense catharsis. Instead, it comes in waves, rising and falling in a continuous state of flow.
Peaceful and patient
“Theatre is one of the last few places where you are not allowed to constantly look at your mobile phone. We are flooded with information and we are used to getting things fast and easy, so I wanted to create a work that requires some patience,” she says.
The piece lasts less than an hour and it indeed requires some work from the viewer to forget about the outside world and immerse herself in this alternate dimension, as I got a chance to experience myself while watching the run-through of the show. It was worth it to slow down and allow myself to enter into a truly meditative state, as I went out of the theatre much more calm and peaceful than when I came in.