From Iceland — What Does "Welcome Home" Signify?

What Does “Welcome Home” Signify?

Published February 13, 2009

What Does “Welcome Home” Signify?

The Icelandic Dance Company premieres its February production, Welcome Home, today. The show is intriguing in many ways. Most dance productions have a single choreographer calling the shots: this piece boasts three leaders –  Peter Anderson, Cameron Corbett and Katrín Hall. In tune with this, the group has joined forces with three composers with the ultimate goal of creating a complex piece where the music, dancing, and external appearances harmonize. When Grapevine dropped by at a rehearsal in Borgarleikhúsið last month, their goal seemed distant at best; a flock of dancers climbing on or wrapped around gigantic metal-clockworks on wheels, shifting sluggishly around the stage. A closer look revealed that this chaos was in fact an organized one. They looked like they were pulling it off nicely.
The never ending creation
Celebrated drummer and Sugarcubes dandy Sigtryggur Baldursson composes the pieces music along with Pétur Ben (an equally accomplished musician who boasts of collaborations with such bigwigs Mugison and Nick Cave), and Frank Hall, the uncrowned music king of Borgarleikhúsið. When I quizzed Baldursson whether the collaboration was a success, he diligently explained that they are of course working under the choreographers’ instructions, but they had always assumed that to be the case. “It’s one thing to compose music meant to accompany a dance piece when everything has been choreographed in advance, but creating a piece in collaboration with the choreographers is a completely different task, and a much more difficult one. Somebody has to be in charge,” he illustrated, “we constantly have to write new riffs and shorten and lengthen others. The experience is all in all extremely giving”. Sigtryggur expects them to be tweaking the score until the premiere, and goes as far as calling it “a work in indefinitely progress”.
The patterns of life
Choreographer Peter Andersen depicts the process as a unique experience, “There has been a certain pattern within the group, where you have to listen to everybody. You could say there has been a learning curve. There is always a feeling that there needs to be one leader, and questions such as “if I take the lead, will it disperse the energy of the group?” arise, so this has also been a journey in itself, this process of creation.”
The piece itself has taken a completely different direction since it was kicked off. “We decided to do this production in February of 2008, long before any inkling of a financial crisis. And a lot of things have changed since,” Peter explains. He says the group emphasized common questions that arise in the aftermath of such a collapse, placing a special focus on the patterns that we live within. “The pattern of the seasons, the patterns of life and finally the economic pattern are cornerstones of this work. Crises happen all the time. You build things up again. It’s this constant build-crash-build-crash process.” Peter says he hopes that when somebody watches the work, they’ll draw connections not only to the crisis, but also to the cycle of feelings they delineate in the piece.
The fragile idea of “home”
The show’s title, Welcome Home, isn’t exactly lucid. We asked Peter to elaborate: “We came up with the title Welcome Home, which leaves us quite open to interpretation.” He then explained that the idea of home varies, to some it’s a nice and secure place, while to others it… isn’t. Some retain even dearer feelings than others for their home, and Peter emphasises that this has been case with Icelanders. But is it still?  “Icelanders are greeted with a special “welcome home” plaque when they land in Keflavík, which is unheard of elsewhere on the globe. Now their home is a bit rocky – how does that affect their psyche?”

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