Samsteypan collective is premiering the piece ÚPS! directed by Víkingur Kristjánsson on Thursday 1st march in Tjarnarbíó 101 Reykjavík. We took a sneak- peak and met with Ásgerður G. Gunnarsdóttir the dramaturg of the piece and the rest of the group to find out a little more about the project.
Ásgerður / the group in front of Tjarnarbíó
What is this group about, and what is the concept?
“We started this group in 2005, and when we were deciding on a name, we wanted our group to have words that somehow would be connected to movement, energy, experimentalism and some kind of development.” Ásgerður says and adds that collaboration with actors, musicians and others working in the field of stage-arts are in the limelight and an important part of their work.
Do you think the arts are too categorized in that sense, when you think about dance and acting?
“Well back in the day, before the Icelandic academy of the Arts offered education with various ideas about this blending between acting and dance, with the contemporary dance department and theory and practice, this was surely and probably categories that didn’t blend too much.” Ásgerður says and adds that she thinks catergorization is fine, but that their group had more interest in new ideas about movement, that it isn’t just about pre-given steps and technique and so forth.
“We want to use different dance styles in cooperation with all those that have to do with stage- arts and performance. We were in the beginning inspired by dance- styles by international groups.” Ásgerður says.
Photos from previous pieces, Kandiland and Shake me. Photographs: Bart Grietens
ÚPS! The title of the piece, what can you tell me about that?
“This is the final piece in a triology we decided to create, they have all been built on works by Shakespeare. This is the last one, and it is based on the Shakespheare comedies. The word ÚPS has so much to do with mistakes, misunderstandings and that kind of things, like woops, that this happened.” Ásgerður explains and adds that the group found this word fitting for the concept of the piece.
“You maybe find yourself in some sort of dramatic crisis, but then you just say, woops, obbossí!”
So its not serious, its just ÚPS (woops) and that’s the end of it?
“Well that’s the thing, you maybe find yourself in some sort of dramatic crisis, but then you just say, woops, obbossí! And that´s the end of the matter in these comedies that we are working from.” Ásgerður says and laughs. “The line we found is very thin between drama and comical things.”
So, this piece consists of four dancers and one actor, right?
“Yes, we got to know Hannes Óli Ágústsson in the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, and did the first piece of this triology together in 2009. This blend has been very interesting and successful for our group.”
What about the music, do you have a sound world in the piece?
“Yes, the musician Gísli Galdur has remixed a lot of nineties songs for our piece ÚPS! that will surely strengthen our world that we are creating. This has been a theme for all our pieces in this triology, first we had power-ballads for the first piece and songs by the very well knowned band Queen for the our second piece.” Ásgerður says.
“We felt that the energy in surden songs from the nineties, is clownish and strange, that suits this humour- and comic preformance very well. Maybe its this e-pill popping, like Ibiza atmosphere, that I at least think about when I hear some of those songs.”
So, do you record your pieces so that you have them in some sort of video- format?
“Well this has been a problem for all dance forms, that the documentation of the pieces are not always produced in some sort of video footage or photographs. This is an disadvantage for performing arts.” Ásgerður says but adds that they try to document their pieces as much as they can.
Hannes Óli Ágústsson, Melkorka S. Magnúsdóttir, Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, Ragnheiður S. Bjarnarson, Ásgerður G. Gunnarsdóttir, Arna Ýr Sævarsdóttir og Víkingur Kristjánsson.
Is it possible to document and capture movement visually, and do the piece justice at the same time?
“I´ve been thinking about this a lot. You can, but the result will only be the skeleton of the piece though. You can never capture the full atmosphere, the experience of being in the same space and time, as the performance happens.” Ásgerður says but adds that the group is open to all documentation formats.
So what can you tell me about the piece, what can one expect?
“The piece is very visual, very physical and energetic. It dosent give one specific meaning, but there is a lot of stories that binds in one wholesome whole. We are trying to creative one world for all those different threads that are in this piece.”
Is this performance going to be in English?
“Well the dance, music, movement and atmosphere is international. But we are going to perform this piece in English.” Ásgerður says. “Stay tuned”!
Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís