Reykjavík Fringe is over for another year: the hubbub around Tjarnarbíó has died down, the flurry of wrist-banded guests marching around 101 have dispersed. Multitudes of posters advertising shows flap impotently in Iðnó. But even with the dust settled, there is still one last act to make a song and dance about: the winner of the 2022 Reykjavík Fringe Grapevine award!
This year, said award was presented to ‘A Study Of Choices,’ a performance piece that predominantly features contemporary dance, but is so much more than that. We caught up with Swedish creators Linda Wardal and Gustav Lejelind to find out more about their award-winning show.
“The idea was basically to make instructions and place three dancers on stage hearing those instructions for the first time, and for the audience to see those three dancers simultaneously,” Linda says, explaining the basic concept behind their work. “We realised during the process that what we were working on was choices.”
The piece unfolds as thus, with the dancers—who are completely naive to the show—standing on stage. Linda and Gustav sit in a corner, clad in matching jumpsuits, observing. A warm soundscape swells into reality and with it Linda’s recorded voice, inviting the dancers to follow simple instructions: “Touch your knee. Try the other knee. Which one feels better?” She asks. The dancers move in the space following the directions—and their own intuition. The words are the same but the motions are different. “Don’t be afraid,” Linda says kindly. “There is no way to fail.”
“We have so much fun”
“We have so much fun doing this,” Gustav says, of working with his artistic partner. Gustav is responsible for the music and sound for ‘A Study Of Choices,’ whereas Linda, a choreographer and dancer by training, wrote the majority of the script. However the pair worked in close collaboration for the entirety of the process, feeding back on and adding to each other’s contributions.
“Maybe it has to do with my musical background, that with playing an instrument I’m used to making music with other people,” Gustav says on what drew him toward creating art in this way. “I kind of brought that into working with other other fields—working with other visual artists or dancers. I like what happens when I do my thing but it meets something else.”
“It was completely collaborative,” adds Linda, of their process. “We met every Wednesday evening over a long period. We have really had the time to think about this for a long time.”
At some point during this lengthy creative origin, the artists realised that they were constantly being faced with different choices, both within and outside of their work. “We kept sitting down and trying to decide different things, how should this be, et cetera, and then we started seeing these choices in a different light,” Gustav says. “Suddenly, we start asking, should we do this, or that? Should we have some dinner now? Or should we do something else? We started seeing everything through the lens of choices.”
“You question yourself so much as a dancer, asking yourself, ‘is this enough?’” Linda adds. “Maybe that’s where I also question my choices all the time. So then, this way of giving the instructions quite fast [in the show] is also a way of saying it doesn’t matter, that this doesn’t have to be your best choice, but just make a choice now. There’s something about that, I think, that is important.”
The outcome of the choices Gustav and Linda ultimately made play out for audiences in ‘A Study Of Choices’—until the lens finally switches to focus on the audience themselves. The dancers sit on stage, observing the audience as they are invited to touch their knee, or to try the other knee if they prefer. Nervous suppressed giggles reveal the slight awkwardness of the crowd, but the atmosphere is warm. Once again, Linda’s voice rings out: “there is no way to fail.”
RVK Fringe is an annual arts festival which took place between 24 June-3 July 2022.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!