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Jefta van Dinther choreographs an autobiography

Choreographer Jefta van Dinther is back with a new big stage production for Swedish dance company Cullbergbaletten. ELIAS, last year’s major breakthrough artist in Swedish music, whose debut single ‘Revolution’ is a major hit, provides recorded singing and voice-over, accompanied by music and sound design from David Kiers, lighting design by Minna Tiikkainen, and set design by artist duo SIMKA. ‘Protagonist’, will have its world première at Julidans in Amsterdam 7 July 2016. Protagonist will tour this autum to Stockholm, Dansens Hus 23-25 November and Kortrijk, Budascoop 29 November.

“Protagonist is a very personal story. It is about a calling out for change, a maneuvering out of immobility. The performance takes us on a journey of struggling and trying, of dreaming and hoping, of being haunted by our histories and of being overly preoccupied with what is yet to come. But somewhere along the line the people on stage choose another path: they regress in an evolutionary sense, as an active choice in reconnecting with what is around us. As a conscious decision for being present”, says Jefta van Dinther.

Jefta van Dinther
‘Protagonist’ is Jefta van Dinther’s second creation for Cullbergbaletten. His first, the successful production ‘Plateau Effect’, premiered in 2013 and went on to tour throughout Europe. Van Dinther received the Swedish Theatre Critics’ dance award in 2013 for the production, which was also chosen to be performed at the Swedish Biennial for Performing Arts in 2015. Jefta van Dinther’s work is characterised by a vigorous physical approach and nearly always implies a staged research of movement itself. The moving body is centrefold in his work, interacting with light, sound and different materials to come together as a whole. His works deals with notions of the visible and the invisible, light and darkness, illusion, affect, voice and image.

Van Dinther’s other productions of note include the aforementioned Plateau Effect (2013), As It Empties Out (2014), THIS IS CONCRETE (2012), GRIND (2011), The Blanket Dance (2011), Kneeding (2010), The Way Things Go (2009) and IT’S IN THE AIR (2008). Jefta van Dinther graduated from Amsterdam School of the Arts (MTD) in 2003. He has also worked as Senior Lecturer and Artistic Director of the Master programme in Choreography at DOCH (School of Dance and Circus in Stockholm), and in 2012 he was awarded the Birgit Cullberg grant by Konstnärsnämnden, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.

Swedish artist Elias came to the public’s attention last spring with his song ‘Revolution’, which became a major success. He followed this up with another single, ‘Green Eyes’, and the EP ‘Warcry’.

As a thirteen-year-old, Elias started singing with the Tensta Gospel Choir, where he began to develop his unique singing voice – which has since drawn comparisons with Sam Cooke, Anthony Hamilton and Sam Smith. One of Spotify’s ‘Spotlight Artists’ for 2016, he is set to release his debut album this spring, which includes collaborations with producers such as Paul Epworth (Adele, Coldplay), HYENA, John Hill (Florence + The Machine, Christina Perri) and Fraser T. Smith (Adele, Ellie Goulding).

Elias names Otis Redding, Spooky Black, Patti Smith and Jeff Buckley as his major influences and sources of inspiration. Last year, his performances included an appearance on Norwegian-Swedish TV show ‘Skavlan’ together with a string section and a gospel choir, plus appearances at Way Out West and the Roskilde and Reeperbahn festivals.

“’Revolution’ is about breaking up with something you don’t believe in and instead doing things the way you like. It’s not an angry song – more about how fantastic it can be to start over again,” says ELIAS about the song, which is included in ‘Protagonist’”.

ELIAS will tour in Europe this summer: 14 July, Slottsfjell, Tønsberg, Norway, 15 July, Longitude Festival, Dublin, Irland, 6 August, Wilderness Festival, Cornbury, UK, 11 August, Haldern Pop, Haldern, Germany, 19 August, Lowlands Festival, Biddinghuizen, The Nederlands, 20 August, Pukkelpop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium, 21 August, Dockville Festival, Hamburg, Germany, 26 August, Popaganda, Stockholm, Sweden, 27 August, Musikfestwochen Festival, Winterthurer, Switzerland.

Credits Protagonist (2016)

Choreography, direction Jefta van Dinther

Created together with and performed by Adam Schütt, Alexandra Campbell (guest), Anand Bolder, Daniel Sjökvist, Eleanor Campbell, Eszter Czédulás, Eva Mohn, Gesine Moog, Jac Carlsson, Katie Jacobson, Linda Adami (guest), Samuel Draper, Unn Faleide, Vincent Van der Plas, Tiran Willemse
Music and sound design David Kiers
Vocals ELIAS
Lighting design Minna Tiikkainen
Set design SIMKA
Costume assistant Marita Tjärnström
Text Jefta van Dinther
Assistant choreographer Thiago Granato
Rehearsal director Thomas Zamolo
Artistic advice Cecilia Roos, Felix Bethge and Robert Steijn
Voice coach Pia Olby
Additional original compositions
Revolution, Elias Sahlin, SONY/ATV Music Publishing, Joel Sjöö, EMI Music Publishing, Andreas Söderlund, Songs for Wife AB/BMG Rights Management (Scandinavia) AB, released by Warner Music Sweden AB
Inseparable, Elias Sahlin, SONY/ATV Music Publishing, Frederick Wennborg, copyright control, released by Warner Music Sweden AB, Says, Nils Frahm, Manners McDade Music Publishing, courtesy of Erased Tapes Records.

Photo Urban Jörén
Duration approximately 60 minutes.
World premiere 7 July 2016 at Julidans, at Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam.
Sweden premiere 23 November at Dansens Hus, Stockholm.

Cullbergbaletten has performed all over the world and is an important element in the international presentation of contemporary dance. The company also engages in national outreach through its tours within Sweden. Cullbergbaletten collaborates with a variety of national and international choreographers and performing artists who create works for large as well as small stages. Cullbergbaletten’s activities encompass different projects and productions including collaborations 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’s defining characteristics. Cullbergbaletten is part of Riksteatern, The Swedish National Touring Theatre. Gabriel Smeets is the artistic director of Cullbergbaletten.