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Margarita Vikander (Canada)

Dancing through the snowy night

Vikander, Margarita (Canada): "Dancing through the snowy night", 18th International Congress on Dance Research, Argos, 3-7/11, 2004.

For many years I lived in Norway, a country which has an image of being cold, dark and snowy in winter, a land where people accept this wonderful gift of nature by making it an essential part of their culture and mythology. I worked as an Artistic Director, Pedagogue and Choreographer of the Dance program at the Levanger School of Fine and Performing Arts. While looking for a theme for one of our performances, I came across the idea of creating an outdoor winter-night multi-media spectacle, which would:

  • incorporate dance, theatre, music and visual arts and thus will bring students from the different disciplines together;
  • reflect the unique settings the school found itself in (relatively small community; historical and magnificent 100-year old estate/museum with a large courtyard and a steep slope, which could serve as a natural amphitheatre seating for the audience);
  • have close connection to the unique dimensions of the country’s nature (long winter season, short daylight period, a lot of snow, etc.) and culture (fascination with the snow and well developed winter mythology);
  • contribute to the cultural, emotional as well as spiritual experience of the viewers;
  • bring together the community by involving people of different ages and background both as actors, support staff and an audience.

As a result of the library research fairy-tale “Snow Queen” by the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen seemed to be a perfect “material” and an interesting point of departure for creating such a show. It tells a story about the power of love and friendship, which helps to break a spell of the Snow Queen and bring the boy back home to his family and friends from the captivity in her magnificent, but icy cold and emotionally blunt Kingdom.

A script was written, taken into account all the considerations mentioned above, and one hour outdoor show was presented to the multi-hundred audience on the frosty February night. The “stage” set was comprised of the real historical buildings featuring the city; constructions and sculptures made of snow and ice, lit with the live candles, wooden torches and theatrical lights, creating the magic atmosphere of the Snow Queen’s Palace; and some traditional Nordic structures typical for the environment and the landscape of the native Scandinavian people – laps. To make an experience more real live animals (a horse with the sled and a dog) have been introduced, and the members of the audience had to make their own seats on the snow covered hill.

The show combined dance, theatre, song and music, where dance played one of the central roles, creating an emotional background and the contextual link between the scenes included in the spectacle. The most challenging aspect of the dance was, without doubt, its presentation in the winter outdoors with dancing on the snow! There were different dance styles incorporated: from the classical ballet to jazz and stylized folk dances. They were performed both to recorded and live music, in the last case combined with singing. In most of the dance scenes only dance pupils participated, but there was also dancing done by the actors playing dramatic roles. The role of the Snow Queen was mainly danced, although it also included some dramatic aspect. About 70 students and teachers gained an unforgettable experience while working together on such an unusual project.

Overall it appeared to be a unique spectacle enthusiastically received by the audience, and adding a new dimension to the school and community life. For the director and choreographer it has become a challenging but extremely creative task of bringing dance into unconventional, but close to the hearts of people environment, which expressed its own appreciation to the idea by adding a charming touch to the show: a Dance of the Real Snow Flakes – it was lightly snowing during the performance!

Presentation will be done in the format of video demonstration accompanied with contextual analysis and commentary.

Duration: 30 min.

Equipment required – overhead projector, VCR/DVD player, large screen and microphone.

Ms. Margarita Vikander, Ph.D.

 

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