Let’s face the music and dance
By Elien van Riet
Strong musicality distinguishes her work from the other choreographers in spe. Alma Söderberg is nominated for the ITs Choreography Award 2009 with her performance Entertainment. Even though she’s only in her third year of the School for New Dance Development (SNDO).
“Sound and movement intertwine”
At twelve, the blond, blue eyed Swedish girl that was you decided to become a Flamenco dancer. At sixteen you moved to Spain to study at a traditional Flamanco academy in Sevilla. How does Flamenco influence your work as a young choreographer?
It’s really essential to me. The way sound and movement intertwine in my work is coming from the Flamenco. Overall I believe that dance and sound are not two separated things. In my performance Entertainment I start by creating movement, though it’s without music. At that moment my ears are really open and I hear a lot of sounds coming from the audience or somebody walking backstage.
Do these sounds provide a kind of a score?
It’s like music I can dance to. In the gestures I also produce rhythm, for example a pulse by breathing or by the movement of my body through space. The loopstation I work with produces sound by using my body. In this way the sound is very physical. The sounds are looped and create a pulse to which I sing. I see it as a big gift to be able to make an aural and visual experience at the same time.
The loopstation as a medium implies repetition. Is this of importance in your work?
Yes, repetition plays a big role. Loops are all around us and to me personally mean a kind of life pulse. To me this pulse feels like it could go on forever. This eternity is comforting me, creating a serene space. In these loops I really feel at ease. Though, the loops provoke as well a need for craziness… Or rather chaos, a need to break the loops. This is something that happens automatically with a loopstation. When the loops built up the station gets overloaded and accumulates in one high tone. I like this metaphor as a respond to chaos. This I try to communicate in Entertainment. First there’s the deconstruction of both dance and sound. Then they come together in a synthesis, they get stuck in repetition and create a space in which new movements can evolve. While creating material for this piece I started with urgent improvisation. I collected everything that came up, sound and movement. Collecting the material I thought about the question what dance is.
What is dance?
Dance is everywhere and can be everything. It’s in the jumping atoms, always moving. SNDO introduced to me the connection between movement and thought. The concept of being in constant movement comes to the fore. I am inspired by this idea, but at the same time I also believe in the silence, breaks, pauses. The static is dance to me as well.
Are there choreographer or musicians you can identify with?
Well, the only people I can identify with is people from the Flamenco. I have one house god, choreographer Israel Galván. His work has a tremendous impact on me. I came out the performance all shaking and crying. No contemporary work has ever done this to me. His language is Flamenco. On Springdance he performed Solo Israel Galván, about him and only him. It’s a kind of conversation. He’s creating sounds, making percussion. For 45 minutes he’s not constructing something, nor reaching anything. I have the association that he’s just asking questions without getting any answers. He asks a question and then there’s nothing, like a black hole, a pause. He’s not telling a linear story. Dancing and making sounds, like an ongoing process. He breaks with tradition and innovates the Flamenco.
Is that also your ambition to innovate Flamenco?
No, I come from a totally different background than Galván. Where he comes from the tradition I am really a good example of this postmodern subject, being influenced by different styles, in the middle of a stream of different sources and dance styles. I don’t feel the need to break with tradition, because I am not traditional myself.
What can we expect your future work will be about?
In the work I do there is always a relation between tradition, a wellknown formal language, something that might be considered static, and chaos, shifting meanings, elusion and constant movement. This you can see in how I in Entertainment use at first wellknown gestures and sounds in order to in the end create a new space where things are more undefinable. I’m interested in continuing to work with this relation in the future.