The Juliet Duet

Erna Ómarsdóttir (Reykjavík) / Halla Ólafsdóttir (Stockholm) / Artists in Residence
Prelude at the theatre: In 2018, two Icelandic choreographers caused a great stir at Munich’s Theater am Gärtnerplatz with their eruptive ballet performance “Romeo & Julia”. 20 dancers, an orchestra, lots of fake blood, real fire. Everyone is Romeo and everyone is Juliet. A physically intense, sprawling stage spectacle about one of the most famous love stories in world literature. In their new production “The Juliet Duet”, Ómarsdóttir and Ólafsdóttir take another look at the ballet, but this time, they do the exact opposite: They focus exclusively on the character of Juliet. They both dance on stage and, rather than a large-scale staging, they go for an immediate encounter with the audience. But that doesn’t mean that it will be any less intense. Sergei Prokofiev’s score from the year 1935 serves as the basis of a dance concert that uses the voice as an invisible body and the music as an extension of the body in the space.

An audio version of Shakespeare‘s drama is used starting point and backdrop for an experiment that uses dance as a device for generating text. They mix language with movement, thus reinventing the text. The result is a kind of dance-fiction that uses an already existing story to created many new, varying stories, topics and narratives.

Ómarsdóttir and Ólafsdóttir share a love-hate towards classical ballet and they both feel that it needs to be liberated from restrictive notions of perfection and hierarchy that only strengthen passed-down gender roles and inequality. Their intention is nothing less than to conduct an exorcism of the century-old, repressive body-ideologies of classical ballet. For their ballet-exorcism, they employ the language of ballet, its technique, composition and its expression, merging it with aerobics, screaming exercises and head-banging. Choreography melds with music, witchcraft with home economics. Body prosthetics, hair, confetti, fake blood, sweat and tears whirl around the room. An emotional, sad, alarming, hopeful, weird and humorous dance piece can be expected.

Erna Ómarsdóttir danced in works by artists including Jan Fabre, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Les Ballets C de la B, Björk or Jóhann Jóhannson before focusing on her own choreographies in recent years. She has been the artistic director of the Iceland Dance Company in Reykjavík since 2018.

The Stockholm-based Icelandic artist, dancer and choreographer Halla Ólafsdóttir is always keen to expand the concepts of dance and choreography in her work. As a performer, she played the lead role in Sidney Leoni’s 2015 feature film “Under Influence”.


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Team

Choreographie and Performance: Erna Ómarsdóttir, Halla Ólafsdóttir
Stage design: Chrisander Brun
Sound design and Video: Valdimar Jóhann
Music: Stephen O’Malley, Sergei Prokofiev

A coproduction of Residenz Schauspiel Leipzig with Shalala Reykjavík and Reykjavík Dance Festival.