Göteborgs Operans Danskompani © Göteborg Opera
Göteborgs Operans Danskompani
© Göteborg Opera

Göteborgsoperans Danskompani stakes a strong claim to being one of the foremost contemporary dance companies in Europe. The largest in the Nordic region, Göteborgsoperans Danskompani is “truly a company of today”, with dynamic seasons of new works year after year. At Göteborgsoperans Danskompani, the repertoire consists primarily of creations specially made for the company, which means when they have a première, they have a world première.

The four major premières taking place in the coming season seem to delve into the imagination and explore fantastical landscapes. Two of the pieces are contemporary variations of well-known fictions, while the others are firmly rooted in history and folklore. 

Wonderland/Wasteland © Göteborgs Operans Danskompani
Wonderland/Wasteland
© Göteborgs Operans Danskompani

The choreographers have taken four very different artistic approaches to their subject matters. Slovak choreographer Anton Lachky's A's Adventures explores Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from a new perspective and delves into a surrealist landsape of what is not visible in the looking-glass. Conversely, Norwegian choreographer Ina Christel Johannessen's Wasteland is an avant-garde and socially critical piece that takes us into the darkness of the coal mines and questions the stress of consumption today. Alan Lucien Øyen’s Neverland, a piece characterised by a strong desire never to grow up and inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, is partnered with Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan’s provocative work, Shadowland, in which a witch-hunt ensues.

But mystical is not the right word to describe the Wonderland: Weird and Wonderful season, Adolphe Binder, artistic director of the Dance Company, corrects me. Perhaps this description negates the grounding these pieces have in reality, and compromises the true depths of human experience the four choreographers draw upon.

Adolphe Binder © Göteborg Opera
Adolphe Binder
© Göteborg Opera

AB: The four major premières Wonderland/Wasteland and Neverland/Shadowland will be very different artistic ways to deal with the subjects. From funny to poetic, raw to theatrical. From Alice's adventures in abstraction, to the vast wastelands of a coal mine, the world of lost boys and the fear of growing up to the oppressed fears, guilt and longings in our witch-project. Realities, how we perceive and remember them.

CS: The theme of storytelling blooms in the Opera season too, where fairytale, folk tales and myths take the stage. Why is this theme important?

AB: It is about different layers of reality and diving into our (sub-)conscious. There are many worlds within us, worlds to flee to, worlds to dream about and worlds to learn to cope with for survival.

CS: How does the 2014-15 season develop themes we've seen in past seasons?

AB: The Wonderland: Weird and Wonderful season, builds on the previous seasons: Homeland and Riskzones (12/13) and Mind and Spirit (13/14). All of them explore our approach to the perception and reflection of different realities. They all build on each other. At first the reality of the migrant body, with the effect of dislocation and what effect it has on our sense of belonging. Next, the reflection of interconnectedness of the space within and outside us, questions on parallel realities, the collective body and the power of its intentional mind. Wonderland will dive into the realities of the conscious/unconscious/subconscious of the individual as much as of the social environment. Like Alice down the black rabbit hole, re-discovering the unknown. What level is real, what is history or lived life stored in our memories, what fantasy, what projection, what fear? Dreams as well as nightmares.

Shadowland/Neverland © Göteborgs Operans Danskompani
Shadowland/Neverland
© Göteborgs Operans Danskompani

CS: Why have you decided to commission four new works around the theme, rather than exclusively performing existing works that fit the theme?

AB: When I started in 2011, I was determined to create a four year artistic plan, that was strongly built on genuine themes that relate to contemporary life and realities of today, and to the current discourses in the different art fields, from stage-art to visual art to music. I wanted commissioned originals that are held together by the reflection on different layers of one seasonal mutual theme. (Rather than wrapping a loose theme around an already existing repertory). The four new creations are the core on the big stage, while all other projects like 37/ Suburbia,  Northern (de)Lights or Firebird, also relate to the Wonderland: Weird and wonderful season.

CS: How do these four new pieces represent the future of Göteborgsoperans Danskompani?

AB: The four creations on the big stage, much like the several creations over the past three years, stand for a strong, recognizable profile. We have new artists working with new ideas connected to intellectual reflections, in a highly creative and diverse way. They represent the present, and hopefully will build towards a strong future of international relevance and visibility. My vision is to have a company that in mutual effort has built a unique, original repertory, that reflects on relevant themes in our lives and society today.

Creative teams, which I compose and combine, spark off on an idea I trigger in them and invent completely new works – artistic teams that are often new to the circuit, exciting and upcoming. That makes us a trendsetting dance company, built of top notch dancers from around the world, representing the region internationally as ambassadors as much as finding a strong local audience.

The Göteborgsoperans Danskompani 2014-15 season looks to be a dynamic programme of events, engaging with contemporary audiences in a plethora of weird and wonderful landscapes. The four world premières in the Wonderland season will contribute to the Danskompani's distinctive profile as a creative contemporary company.