From Iceland — Testing The Body’s Limits

Testing The Body’s Limits

Published February 11, 2015

Testing The Body’s Limits
Anna Manning
Photo by
York Underwood

Just in time for the Reykjavík Dance Festival, the Icelandic Dance Company presents TAUGAR, with two works choreographed by Saga Sigurðardóttir and Karol Tyminski. As we at GV HQ are all super into that modern dance thing, we decided to meet up with Karol and one of his dancers to learn more about his contribution to TAUGAR, ‘Liminal’.

Infectious energy

As I awaited Karol in the grand foyer of Borgarleikhúsið, the room was bustling with echoes from the ongoing rehearsal as staff and performers passed through, deep in preparation for the upcoming premiere. Soon, one of the dancers from ‘Liminal’, Hannes Þór Egilsson, arrived to greet me.

“We haven’t seen the company do this kind of exploration before.”

Hannes sat down in a lounge chair and made himself comfortable. Even in his baggy rehearsal clothes, his athletic physique was obvious. He tells me that he initially joined the Icelandic Dance Company in 2007, but has since left the company and is returning now just to perform in Karol’s piece, which he describes as unique and “really special”— functional, focused, contained, and precise.

The first thing you notice about choreographer Karol is his infectious energy. As he joined Hannes and I, he pulled his seat as close to the table as he could, speaking in a way that almost immediately managed to make me just as excited as he was about his piece.

Karol comes from Poland and has a strong background in classical ballet. He tells me that he was invited over by Icelandic Dance Company’s artistic advisor, Erna Ómarsdóttir, “to bring a different way” of moving. In line with this, he says he likes to call himself a “movement maker,” rather than a choreographer, noting that he prefers exploring the possibilities and limits of the body over focusing on technique. He strives to make his art as “raw” as possible by emphasizing work and moving over the creation of posed images.

Productive brutality

The name ‘Liminal’ comes from the word liminality, meaning the transitional and initial stage of a process. To better explain the concept, Karol picks up his coffee cup, showing that it can be moved or destroyed or any number of other things. It’s like stepping through a threshold: as you take the step you are neither in front of nor beyond the door, but just in the movement between.

The work is also largely “about learning what the body could be and how it can be used.” If a child hits a playmate, she does not necessarily mean to do him harm, but might just be curious about how the other body will react. Karol spoke a lot about “brutality” and how it can also be productive. Going back to his coffee cup, he explains that he could brutally smash it, which would destroy the cup, but that destruction would also help him learn something new about the object. To him, “brutality” is more about curiosity than ill intent.

“We haven’t seen the company do this kind of exploration before,” Hannes adds. To him, the piece is about essence; it is unpolluted, pure thought. Karol wants to move away from technique to show the mechanism of the body and is not interested in making dance seem effortless to an audience. According to Karol, you don’t need to “take heaviness away to make it beautiful and light.”

It is impossible to miss just how excited both Karol and Hannes are about this piece. They gushed about how new and exciting this work is, and neither one was able to sit still.

I, for one, cannot wait to see the performance.

Find more information and buy tickets to TAUGAR at mið

Read more about the Iceland Dance company at

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