From Iceland — Finding A Voice In The Void: ‘What Will We Sing About’ Dives Deep Into The Psyche

Finding A Voice In The Void: ‘What Will We Sing About’ Dives Deep Into The Psyche

Finding A Voice In The Void: ‘What Will We Sing About’ Dives Deep Into The Psyche

Published February 1, 2019

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Iceland Dance Company’s newest show, ‘What Will We Sing About?’ is an elusive journey into the human psyche, choreographed directly around the personal experiences and inner worlds of the eight dancers involved. Conceived by Belgian choreographer Pieter Ampe, the piece involved months of preparation in order for the group to get to know each other viscerally. This knowledge was then used to build the piece from the ground up.

Pure intimacy

“We’re touching on subjects that are very human. We’re going to vulnerable places.”

“It’s been an intimate journey,” dancer Una Björg Bjarnadóttir says softly, when asked about the rehearsal process. “We’re touching on subjects that are very human. We’re going to vulnerable places. The last two to three months probably had the most sharing I’ve ever done.”

While she speaks delicately, it’s clear that this process has touched a nerve. The piece is poignant for all the dancers, but it pushed Una in particular far beyond her comfort zone. “For many of us, we are opening our voices and singing,” she explains. “I haven’t sung in front of an audience much in my life and it is an extremely insecure and fragile place.”

Anything is possible

For Pieter though, this sensitivity is exactly what he hoped for. “They aren’t trained singers, so they are discovering… and within that discovery, anything is possible,” he says expressively. When Pieter speaks, he oscillates between passionate and poignant insights on the show, whilst apologising that he can’t explain it better. It’s clear that, like Una, ‘What Will We Sing About?’ brings out his insecurities.

The goal, Pieter explains, is to let the audience join in and connect with the dancer’s emotional bareness. “For an audience to feel so welcome on the stage and feel such a part of the show that they don’t mind that someone is singing off-tune… we want to step back and watch something surprising and beautiful be born,” he adds.   

The collective

Shota Inoue, a Japanese dancer in his debut show with the company, found his passion through the intimate connection of the group. “We are individual but part of a collective and working here on being individual within a collective,” Shota explains methodically. He’s a serious man, with clear reverence and respect for the work the dancers have done.

“We are all different human beings,” he continues. “How we grew up, our nationality, our family, our childhood, our education, but everything makes you who you are now, and to bring that individually into a group is hard to practise. Someone will start to cry in the process, or start to scream. It’s real sharing.”

Pieter finds similar meaning in this created community. “To support someone, to know a lot of information about them,” he explains. “You say, well this is amazing, that was tough, I know you went through shit, I also went through shit.” But, he emphasises, the show is not therapy. “It’s also fun. It’s playful. We are asking the big questions here, but it’s generous.”

Info: ‘What Will We Sing About’ will happen on February 8th, 14th, 24th, and 28th at 20:00 at the Reykjavík City Theatre. Tickets are 5,900 ISK and can be bought here.

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