Figure a Sea

by Deborah Hay

Expressen: “Impressive is an understatement.”
SF Gate: ” …an extraordinary new work.” “The dancers add up to a diverse, wonderfully sleek and resilient crew; anywhere you look, there’s something appealing and it is always beautifully articulated.”

Bachtrack: “existentially tender and, finally, terribly poignant, terribly human.”

Seen and Heard International: “The evening was unusual and rare – modest, contemplative, and intelligent, it satisfied the soul in these noisy, troubled times.”

Tanz: “Figure a sea is a subtile and tender piece, ingenius too and extremely exhilarating.”

Berliner Zeitung: “So young, so fresh, so awake. Contemporary dance like Figure a Sea is seldom seen”. “This piece should have opened the festival because it is representative and at the same time important art and a shock.”

Dagens Nyheter: “Magnificent, skillful and peaceful”
“Cullbergbaletten’s collaboration with Deborah Hay is a success. Figure a Sea is a thoughtful, flowing and very beautiful performance.”
“The performance is a remarkable and sublime meditative experience.”
“Cullbergbaletten with guests impresses.”

SR Kulturnytt: “60 minutes of purity, beauty and body.”
“A wonderful meeting between Laurie Anderson and Cullbergbaletten”

Cullbergbaletten continues to challenge the audience’s experience of dance. Through their curious and international collaborations the company helps change how the world sees dance. Figure a Sea brings together Cullbergbaletten’s dancers with two of the performing arts very greatest: the choreographer Deborah Hay and composer Laurie Anderson.

Figure a Sea is a meditation on seeing. Seeing music, fleeting incidences and synchronicities, unbelievable unexpectedness and, most surprising seeing the unnamable. It is a space for seeing oneself seeing”, says Deborah Hay on Figure a Sea for Cullbergbaletten.

American Deborah Hay (born 1941 in Brooklyn) has achieved icon status among choreographers. Her work was formulated in 1960s experimental Judson Dance Theatre in New York, one of the most radical and influential post-modern art movements. Hay’s dances center on undoing the body’s reliance on learned behavior by enlarging the field from which a dancer can resource movement. She spent many years choreographing solo works for notable artists including Mikhail Baryshnikov. The choreographer William Forsythe helped influence her international career after seeing the premiere of her quartet The Match in 2005 at the Montpellier Dance Festival. She has been awarded many grants and awards including the inaugural and groundbreaking Doris Duke Artist Award in 2012. On May 5, 2015 France’s Minister of Culture and Communication awarded Hay the title of Chevallier de L’Ordre Des Arts et Des Lettres.

Laurie Anderson (born in 1947 in Glen Ellyn) began her career as a sculptor and performance artist in the late 1960s. Early in her career she worked as an illustrator and art critic. She is a pioneer in electronic music and has written both popular and art music and collaborated with, among others, William Burroughs, Peter Gabriel and Lou Reed. Since 1975, she has recorded seven albums. Anderson plays several instruments, variations of the violin being her main one. O Superman, from 1981 is one of her most famous songs which also reached as high as second place in the British charts. Her film Heart of a Dog was screened at the Venice Film festival in 2015.

In Figure a Sea the dancer and the stage become a sea of endless possibilities. The choreography moves between being technically proficient and minimalist in its expression. It is intimately choreographed yet never the same. Hay challenges, without diminishing, the dancer’s intelligence, beauty, humor, and alacrity. Ease, accuracy, visibility, ambiguity and uniformity are the work’s key ingredients.

Deborah Hay proposes the same set of “what if?” questions for the company dancers, as if stacking multiple meditations at once. They do not look at the world when they are dancing. They participate in it.

Approximately 60 minutes, no intermission.
World premiere at Dansens Hus, Stockholm, Sweden 24 September 2015.

Zodiak, Center for New Dance, Helsinki, Finland.
Peak Performances @ Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA.
Balletto di Roma, Rome, Italy.
Centro per la Scena Contemporanea – Comune di Bassano del Grappa, Bassano del Grappa, Italy
CCAP, Stockholm, Sweden
Supported by the Italian Cultural Institute, Stockholm


Choreography: Deborah Hay

Composer: Laurie Anderson

Set and Lighting Design: Minna Tiikkainen

Sound Design: Martin Ekman

Costume: Marita Tjärnström

Choreographic Assistants: Mira Mutka, Laurent Pichaud

Rehearsal Director: Lisa Drake

This Sublime New Dance Work Embraces Wonder

The New York Times

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