In her new commissioned work HYPER Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir considers the embodied effects of the social political landscape we live in. This latest work dwells on and inside the deep tissues both of this reality and of the bodies trying to cope with it. HYPER conveys the essences of this grand human drama as a cry from the body to a viewer who is offered to experience extreme internal and sensorial states through the bodies of four dancers. As a performance, it silently creeps under the skin and slides around in spaces within, confronting the bodily surface as a gateway to what lies beneath and beyond our superficial facade. HYPER disarms with its crisp stillness, and gives access to the healing aspects of confronting the inner reality of the de-bordered body, providing an alternate reality of pleasure and pain that comes with diving into the HYPER-states.
CAST & CREDITS
CHOREOGRAPHY / CONCEPT / SET DESIGN
Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir
Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir in collaboration with David Kiers
DANCERS FROM THE ENSEMBLE OF THE CULLBERGBALLETT
Adam Schütt, Anand Bolder, Eleanor Campbell, Vincent Van der Plas
“For this author, Hyper is something of an epiphany…the work succeeds in engaging the audience in a contemplation that goes far beyond the body’s exterior, physical form. It’s a painful but powerful piece of choreography.”
Malena Forsare, Sydsvenskan
“Despite its challenging, slow pace, this is a piece in constant motion… as if the bodies of the dancers are struggling against a powerful headwind. This composition is about me and my personal struggles – or about you and yours.”
Sune Johannesson, Kristianstadsbladet
Cullbergbaletten’s “Hyper” is ambiguous and impressive. Cullbergbaletten’s “Hyper” is a remarkable, compelling masterpiece and a rumination on the “wired” nature of modern life. It is not to be missed.
While watching the performance of Cullbergbaletten’s new work, “Hyper,” I am struck and fascinated by Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir ’s choreographic consistency. This impression lingers after the curtain falls, as does my awe at the impressive concentration of the four dancers. I’m also left mildly amused, vaguely bored, and pensive – but not particularly interested, let alone moved.
It is only later, as I make my way home – alone, having parted ways with my companion – that the performance’s magnetic force begins to sink in. Gradually, my intellect catches up with the intense, physical experience of the ballet. This makes “Hyper” a prime example of perhaps the most unique aspect of the greatest choreographic accomplishments.
It takes a fair amount of time for the subconscious and the brain’s limbic system to communicate the physical body’s reactions to consciousness. When this connection finally occurs, the effect is overwhelming. Such is the case with “Hyper.” It is shocking. Long-acting.
Let’s take it from the beginning.
When taken at face value, “Hyper” is almost provocatively simple. The curtain rises on four dancers. Two are standing, while the other two lie on the floor. Their placement is reminiscent of a crime scene photo. Blue-white floors shimmer against a backdrop of white curtains. During the 50-minute performance, the dancers move convulsively in extreme slow motion. They are never more than three meters from their starting points, yet some small part of their bodies remains in constant motion. It is as if they are trapped in setting cement.
Aside from four short song clips, “Hyper” is accompanied only by Tibetan throat singing – strange, discordant, and vaguely synthetic. That is all. Yet this is a hyper-professional performance.
It is not without reason that Guðjónsdóttir has become one of the decade’s most acclaimed and sought-after choreographers. Her work is highly conceptual, yet at the same time, it is of course fundamentally based in the human body. This dichotomy can be seen in Guðjónsdóttir ’s early solo, “Soft target,” (DN 14/10, 2012) which “Hyper” resembles in many respects. At the same time, it is a completely different work. Both works are based in the existential, but “Hyper” is also a chamber play about the shortcomings of social life.
As with all significant works of art, “Hyper” leaves room for layer upon layer of interpretation. Personally, I find myself hung up on the dystopian undertones of the performance – on its questioning of how today’s stressful news cycles, our inextricably wired lives, and social media affect us. Of how they affect mankind. Rather than increasing our freedom, this interconnectivity creates a lack of patience that is effectively portrayed by the physically stammering, even catatonic individuals on the stage. They also appear unable to communicate with each other.
At the same time, Guðjónsdóttir offers hope. She demonstrates and reminds the spectator of the sensational physicality of the human body, and, if only we are attentive enough, of its unmistakable presence. In the best case scenario, it is only when we see and recognize our own (and contemporary society’s) spastic condition that we can “chill out,” relax, and be freed.
In short: “Hyper” is a stunning, captivating masterpiece. It is not to be missed.
01.03.2018 Örjan Abrahamsson, Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm