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Cullberg Ballet presents The Strindberg Project

“I’m delighted to be back with Cullberg Ballet, this time as a choreographer, to work with the artists who make up the company. One of my sources of inspiration is the writer David Foster Wallace. I read a quote by him just after being asked to work on The Strindberg Project. ‘To make someone an icon is to make him an abstraction, and abstractions are incapable of vital communication with living people.’ It made me start to think about Strindberg as an artist and an icon. How are artists turned into icons, and how does that affect the way we experience their art? That will be my starting point,” says Tilman O’Donnell.

Director Melanie Mederlind is working with dancers for the first time ever, but she had no doubts when the company’s artistic director Anna Grip asked her to work on the project last year.

“It has always been my dream to work with dancers. I feel honoured. The Cullberg Ballet is a context in which I am a stranger and at the same time at home, considering the company’s tradition of dance theatre. I have great respect for dance and am inspired by its proximity to contemporary art,” says director Melanie Mederlind.

2012 is the hundredth anniversary of August Strindberg’s death and the year will see a number of events in Sweden and abroad based on Strindberg’s works in different cultural spheres.

“In the final years of his life, Strindberg largely abandoned literature and dedicated himself to linguistics.  He tried to learn Chinese and wrote that as the Chinese were coming, it was time to learn their language. Today, a hundred years later, his words seem almost prophetic,” Melanie Mederlind continues. “The performance will be based on Strindberg’s linguistic texts and will be a playful and stylised language lesson. I want to take in the different linguistic backgrounds of the dancers and create an ensemble piece out of language, associations and images.”

Tilman O’Donnell
Tilman O’Donnell is a dancer and choreographer born in 1981. He grew up in the US and trained at the National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada. He has previously danced with The Göteborg Ballet, Staatstheater Saarbrücken and the Cullberg Ballet. Since 2007 he has been dancing with The Forsythe Company in Frankfurt. He made his debut as a choreographer in 2002 and has been awarded first prize in several international choreography competitions together with dancer and choreographer Shintaro Oue. In 2005 he was named “Dancer to watch” and “Choreographer to watch” by the leading European dance magazine Ballet Tanz. He made his Swedish debut as a choreographer in spring 2010 with the acclaimed work This is for The Göteborg Ballet.

Melanie Mederlind
Director Melanie Mederlind, born in 1972, graduated from the directors’ course at  the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2004. This is the first time she has created a work for dancers. She started working at Riksteatern in 2004 where she directed five productions, the most recent being Innocence by Dea Loher. She has made a name for herself as a director of primarily German contemporary drama and has introduced several German dramatists to the Swedish stage. She directed Elfriede Jelinek’s Swedish premiere. She was nominated for a Hedda Award in 2008 for best direction for her production Ulrike Maria Stuart at Norway’s National Theatre in Oslo. Her productions have been invited to festivals in Norway and Finland and most recently to the Swedish Theatre Biennial in 2011. Last spring she directed Saint Joan of the Stockyards by Bertolt Brecht at Folkteatern in Gothenburg, where she is currently artist in residence.

New work by Tilman O’Donnell
Choreography: Tilman O’Donnell
Costume: Tilman O’Donnell
Lighting design: Thomas Zamolo
Sound design: Mårten Ihre
Dancers: Agnieszka Dlugoszewska, Mirko Guido, Hanako Hoshimi-Caines, Gesine Moog, Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Adam Schütt, Daniel Sjökvist and Patricia Vázquez

New work by Melanie Mederlind
Direction and set: Melanie Mederlind
Music: Vivaldi, Beethoven and others.
Costume: Ulrika van Gelder
Lighting design: Peter Lundin
Sound design: Mårten Ihre
Dramaturgy: Marc Matthiesen
Dancers: Alexandra Campbell, Johanna Lindh, Åsa Lundvik Gustafson, Andrea Martini, Shumpei Nemoto, Victoria Roberts, Csongor Szabó and Kristóf Várnagy

More information and images available at

For requests for interviews and additional information, please contact:
Erica Espling, PR and marketing manager, the Cullberg Ballet
+46 (0)70-602 27 01