Monday, April 28, 2008

Leine and Roebana, Netherlands Dancing and Choreography Pair

Andrea Leine was born in 1966, studied ballet and modern dance at the Scapino Dansacademie and the Rotterdam Dansacademie. She worked with Studio Onafhankelijk Toneel and danced among others with Donald Flemming and also dances in most of Leine & Roebana's performances. Harijono Roebana, born in 1955, studied philosophy and performance studies at the University of Amsterdam and modern dance at the Theaterschhool in Amsterdam, and has a background in music as well. Early in his career, Roebana dance in performances by choreographers Svea Staltman, Arthur Rosenfeld, Jose Besprovany and for Studio Onafhankelijk Toneel and dances among others with Donald Flemming and also dances in most Leine & Roebana works.

Leine & Roebana have developed a unique dance idiom based on a novel approach to symmetry, rhythm and composition. Their quest to express the complexity of reality and the interference of its constituent parts has led to the creation of a highly original language of movement. Previous works by Leine & Roebana have been considerably more theatrical; more recently, however, they have reduced the dramatic elements in their performances in order to explore the possibilities of pure movement. In the late 1990s, they were scrutinizing the development of movement in individual parts of the body, the juxtaposition of rapid dynamics, and stillness and irony. Over the years, their work has been highly praised and rewarded, they've received awards from all over Europe.

Leine & Roebana isolate movement in a way that causes capriciousness. The body falls apart, and the result is what they call "physical schizophrenia", which happens in The Circle Effect. To the electronic compositions of their work Sound Pallerre individuals and groups portray a world of high energy to "spineless" and clumsy are quite difficult for the dancers. The search for beauty is ever-present in these distorted body movements.

It is fascinating what Leine & Roebana have achieved in such a short time; they are unique in the Dutch dance world. For their efforts, Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana recieved a subsidy for a few years, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough to pay a group of dancers for longer that a few months. Yet the future is more than bright for Leine & Roebana, as they are clearly still on the rise.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Contemporary History of Modern Dance In Iceland

The ideas of the pioneers of modern dance concerning movement flourished off and on in Iceland, though they did not take a firm hold. Iceland was, until the beginning of the 20th century, a peaceful peasant and fishing society with the population evenly dispersed on the coasts of the island. Only in the late 19th century did a major population center appear in the capital Reykjavik, due to industrial development in both the fishing industry and farm management. Service and commerce increased quickly. In 1900 the population of the Reykjavik was 6,000 inhabitants (three percent of the whole population) but only 10 years later it had reached 12,000 or 14 percent of the whole population.

Since 1900 the capital has been the major cultural center of the country and today over 150,000 people live in Reykjavik. People who were educated abroad came back to Iceland more aware of the cultural changes in the surrounding world. This caused them to strain toward a higher level of education and arts in Reykjavik and be comparable to neighbouring countries. Theatres, galleries, and educational institutions grew quickly and so did the education of dance. Although the tradition of classical ballet theatre did not reach Iceland until the 1920s, the tradition of modern dance did rather quickly after it emerged.

In 1974 modern dance was incorporated in the gymnastic classes at the Icelandic College of Physical Education and Sport. The initiative came from Sigriour Valgeirsdottir, a young Iceland woman who had recently returned to Iceland after a long period of dance studies with some of the founders of modern dance, in Berkeley, California. Enthusiastic to spread her knowledge, Valgeirsdottir tried to establish a school and company in Reykjavik. Since the Icelanders had only recently become familiar with classical ballet training, for the first class most of the girls showed up thinking they were to dance in tutus and point shoes. After an honest attempt to spread modern dance around the country, Valgeirsdottir began to train a group of dancer-gymnastics at the Icelandic College of Physical Education and Sport. It was a modern gymnastic troupe that traveled in Iceland and its neighboring countries, using Valgeirsdottir 's choreography and music by various Icelandic composers. Although the troupe's style was based in modern dance, they attended festivals with other gymnastic groups in Scandinavia, modern dance wasn't known there either at that time.

In 1952 the National Theatre of Iceland opened a ballet school, the first and possibly only school with public support. Although the school has always been strictly classical it has from time to time included modern training, depending on the range of guest teachers. Other dance schools, such as, Jassballettskoli Baru, Dansstudio Soleyjar, and Kramhusio have also taught modern technique on occasion since the 1960s. The techniques of Graham, Cunningham, Limon and Horton have all been taught for a few years at a time, coming and going with different teachers. A few times modern jazz companies have been established, but none have so far persisted for more than two or three years at a time.

In 1973 the Icelandic Ballet was established, it was the country's first dance company to receive government support. In the late 1990s the company lead was taken by Katrin Hall who decided to change the company to a modern one, quite an attestation to the modern tradition, finally receiving attention and governmental support. Modern dance has been taught for many; years in various places but had never gotten a firm hold in Icelandic culture. Now, with the Icelandic Ballet recognising the tradition, one imagines modern dance has found a permanent home in Iceland, where it has been coming and going for more than 70 years.