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Deborah Hay and Laurie Anderson to create for Cullbergbaletten

Cullbergbaletten continues to challenge the audience’s experience of dance, and by their curious and international collaborations the company changes the dance map. The new creation brings together 21 dancers in an artistic master meeting between some of the performing arts very largest: the choreographer Deborah Hay and composer Laurie Anderson. World premiere of Figure a Sea at Dansens Hus, Stockholm, 24 September.

American Deborah Hay (born 1941 in Brooklyn) has achieved icon status among choreographers. Rooted in 1960s experimental Judson Dance Theatre in New York, she has worked with Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg. Hay examines always the perception of dance and she was one of the first to use everyday movements as part of the work, which became a milestone in dance history. Deborah Hay is part of one of the most radical and influential post-modern art movements. She later came to focus on solo works and has created works for artists including Mikhail Baryshnikov. The choreographer William Forsythe gave Hay an extra boost in her international career after the premiere of the duet she created for herself and Baryshnikov in 2000. During her long career she has been awarded several grants and awards. In the regular collection of Moderna Museet in Stockholm is a film of Merce Cunningham, with Deborah Hay dancing.

“Figure a Sea is a meditation on seeing. Seeing music, fleeting incidences, synchronicities, copious input points, collectivity, surprise. It is a space for self-reflection: for seeing oneself seeing”, says Deborah Hay on her new work for Cullbergbaletten.

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.

In Figure a Sea the dancer and the stage are considered a sea of endless possibilities. The choreography moves between being technically proficient and minimalist in its expression. Nothing happens by chance. Hay challenges, without diminishing, the dancer’s intelligence, beauty and speed. Ease, accuracy, visibility, ambiguity and uniformity are the work’s key words.

Figure a Sea will tour in North America in 2016 which will be the Cullbergbaletten’s first tour in the United States for several years.

Figure a Sea
Choreography Deborah Hay
Composer/Musical score by Laurie Anderson
Lighting design Minna Tiikkainen

With 21 dancers, Cullbergbaletten’s 15 dancers along with six freelancers from USA, Finland, Italy and Sweden.

Duration 60 minutes, no intermission.

Deborah Hay’s latest book, Using the Sky: a dance (Routledge), will be released in relation to the premiere of Figure a Sea.

Stockholm Dansens Hus 24-26 September, 28-30 October
Jönköping Kulturhuset Spira 3 November
Helsingfors Zodiak, Center for New Dance 12-13 February 2016
Autumn 2016: Tour in USA, Italy and Germany.

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.


Cullbergbaletten has performed all over the world and is an important element in the international presentation of Swedish culture. The company also engages in national outreach through its tours within Sweden. The company collaborates with a variety of national and international choreographers and performing artists who create works for large as well as small stages. Cullbergbaletten activities encompass projects and productions including site specific appearances and collaboration with dance training programs. Cullbergbaletten was founded by Birgit Cullberg in 1967 under the auspices of Riksteatern. The company currently has 16 dancers from nearly as many countries. Since its inception, the stage personalities and technical strength of its dancers have been Cullbergbaletten defining characteristics. Cullbergbaletten is part of Riksteatern, Sweden’s National Touring Theatre. Gabriel Smeets is the artistic director of Cullbergbaletten.