Deep Etude

    23/05  | 20:30
    24/05  | 20:30
    25/05  | 20:30
    26/05  | 18:00

€ 16 / € 13 (-25/65+)

Meet the artist after the performance on 24/05

How does noise sound in the ears of movement? What does dance look like in the eyes of music? And how deeply does rhythm resonate in both? Swedish choreographer/performer Alma Söderberg addresses these questions in a practice characterised by an intense interweaving of sound and movement. Her new creation, Deep Etude, is a phenomenological study of both codes. Söderberg embodies polyrhythms and makes sound and movement distinguishable from each other. With much expression, she manipulates both of these languages, changes their place, hauls each of them separately to the foreground or background, makes one visible and the other invisible. Body and voice are her only instruments; the apparent naturalness with which she handles them evokes admiration. A phenomenon.

By and with
Alma Söderberg

Lechat W. DeHendrik

Dramaturgy by
Igor Dobricic

Light design
Pol Matthé

Artistic Advisor
Anja Röttgerkamp

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Charleroi danse


Co-produced by
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, BUDA, PACT Zollverein, Riksteatern, Vooruit

Supported by
Swedish Arts Council (Kuturrådet)

Residencies at
STUK, BUDA, Kunstenwerkplaats de Pianofabriek, Tanzfabrik, Charleroi Danse/Raffinerie, Beursschouwburg

The artist is supported by
apap – Performing Europe 2020, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union

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The depth and the square
Virginia Woolf, when talking about her book Orlando explained that in this case, as opposed to in other books, she did not ‘go into the depths to see the shapes square up’. Even though this sentence was about explaining what she didn’t do, it got stuck on my mind like a refrain. To see the shapes square up, to go into the depths, the depth and the square, the shape is a square and the square as a verb. At around the same time I listened to Pauline Oliveros cult album Deep Listening. Together with two other musicians later to form the Deep Listening Band she descended deep into an underground cistern with a very long reverb. They recorded their first album there and then; long extended tones curve and carve, expand themselves vertically and horizontally in layers of textural sound. As I listened I started thinking of what would happen if one would introduce rhythm into Oliveros deep listening practice? What is it to listen deeply to rhythm? Perhaps there was a relation between the squares and the rhythm I thought, perhaps that was why I liked what feels like a slightly contradictory relation between the depth and the shapes squaring up? 

At around the same time I started thinking of polyrhythm thanks to a conversation I had with the researcher Jonas Rutgeerts. Polyrhythm, the layering of several rhythms of different lengths felt like a good starting point when thinking about rhythm in relation to deep listening. A polyrhythm encourages the listener to engage actively with the rhythm, as it can shift and change depending on how one listens. The listener can choose her groove by giving emphasis to different sounds within the composition, making it shift its weight, making the beat stumble for a moment, become limp before it slowly settles in a new pace. I thought of how the choreography that I was developing as a structure creates a space of listening; where different rhythms of different lengths create a sort of cube or architecture within which the dance takes place. And at the same time the dance is also helping to construct the same architecture. Hendrik Willekens started experimenting with making layers of cross- and polyrhythms and I started working with these in the studio, using my voice and body to emphasize what it was I heard or add onto the composition what I didn’t hear. Especially one part of what Hendrik made had that cube like character, we called it the ‘lazy bass’ and it became a central part of the composition. I tried to somehow describe what I heard with my body, sometimes focusing on the base and it’s synthesis, sometimes of the bells, sometimes on a syncopation that is not there but insinuated. Before going into the studio I had the intention to make a lecture performance in which I wanted to talk about my relation to rhythm. As it turns out I think that there is still an element of explanation and description present but it is transmitted through movement and rhythmical sound instead of through lecturing.  

Before all of this choreographer and dancer Cecilia Lisa Eliceche lended me a book by Fred Moten called In the Break. I  have to thank her especially for this, since that book gave the process it’s gravity and many many points of inspiration. In a chapter about pianist and poet Cecil Taylor, Moten writes: ‘Music is the improvisation of organization’. To me a similar tension lies in the combination of improvisation and organization as in the depth and the square. I think that this is a tension that is present in the piece and certainly in the making of it. Many moments are improvised and will be different every time the piece is performed but there is a lot of shaping, squaring; placing, organizing going on at all times. But it’s not only that I compose while improvising, it’s that I am improvising with composition. There are several parameters of geometry, evenness and durational symmetries squaring up and being juggled around.

At a very late stage in the process the dramaturge Igor Dobricic brought in a book called On Weaving by Anni Albers into the studio. Weaving had come up before as a word in relation to the spatial choices of the piece but as we started looking at Albers work we realized what a relevant reference it was. When watching Albers’ weaving what I see are rhythmical choices that get caught up in their own materiality. The pattern stumbles on itself, the thread gets caught, thickens, makes a knot and a new pattern appears. The pattern is followed but the following changes the pattern. It is not rhythmical in the sense of a pre-decided form but as the form meets its material the form changes. When the weaving is done one can read it as a score, and what’s beautiful is that there is both a horizontality and a verticality of time co-existing simultaneously; you can follow it along it’s weft and its warp or choose to see it as a single moment of layers of time. The interest I had in the polyrhythmic reality of moving through layers of beats of different lengths zoomed out to a compositional dimension, we started thinking of the whole piece as a carpet. Layered threads of rhythm woven through by the moving attention of the listener. If the intention was already to expand the listening moment to a kind of space or cube through drawing up lines of meter in different directions, with the inspiration of Albers it was also possible to see that drawing happening in a larger spatio-temporal grid.  

Alma Söderberg, March 2018

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Alma Söderberg is a choreographer and performer. Her works emerge out of a practice of voice and movement. Rhythm is her drive. She has made the solo performances: Cosas, TRAVAIL, Nadita and Deep Etude in which vocal and rhythmical work is the common denominator. In collaboration with Jolika Sudermann she made the performance A Talk and she plays in the performance band John The Houseband. In 2014 she made the performance Idioter together with Hendrik Willekens with whom she also started the music project wowawiwa. 

Lechat W. Dehendrik is a pseudonym of the Belgian artist Hendrik Willekens. He studied acting and mime in Leuven and Amsterdam respectively. Since 2010 he has been increasingly focusing on his work as a musician / sound designer / composer. This led to collaborations with Sarah Vanhee, Hagar Tenenbaum and Alma Söderberg, among others. For Deep Etude, he uses the software Studio One for the first time, while the sounds you hear were mainly produced by analogue instruments.

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