The Match

Deborah Hay

In 2019, Deborah Hay will restage her iconic masterpiece The Match for Cullberg. The work is a quartet of many layers with four solos within it, solos that are spontaneously cast each night by who from the quartet steps up to perform. Each time a different solo is highlighted. Funny and odd, The Match has been described as “a fascinating, vibrant battle of wits”. The restaged version of The Match will premiere at Tanz im August in Berlin in 2019, as part of the festival’s Deborah Hay Retrospective.

“My ongoing interest and excitement in working with Cullberg is its’ collective energy and openness to dancing together. Working within the company are an extraordinary number of individual dancers who exceed the threshold of bodily intelligence and movement virtuosity”, says Deborah Hay about her continuing work with the company. Taking a socio-political position in her work, Hay says: “Dance is my form of political activism”.

Deborah Hay choreographed The Match in 2004 and premiered the work at Dancespace at 51 Mark’s Church in New York City in February 2004. lt was made for a selected group of highly experienced dancerc and performers: Ros Warby from Melbourne, Australia, Chrysa Parkinson and Watly Cardona, New York City, and Mark Lorimer, London.

The Match contains meditation-like exercises that invisibly bind the dancers to the material by establishing a mental, emotional, and bodily rigor that is visible in the performance. The work is built on the nature of experience, attention and perception.

As one major New York critic wrote: “There is no musical accompaniment, so the focus is on the dancers: their mystifying travels and relationships, both spatial and personal, and the satisfying way Ms.Hay distributes them about the space … in the strange and surprisingly handsome world of The Match.”
The New York Times, Jennifer Dunning

Deborah Hay herself summed up The Match in a question:

“What if the potential to perceive time and space as unique and original, is not a theme, or movement style, or goal, but a frame for the performers to engage their bodily intelligence through a choreography of material that challenges definition?”

The jury report from the BESSIE, aka the New York Dance and Performance Award, that was given to Deborah Hay in 2004 for The Match describes the piece as “a wondrously strange and impermanent meditation on disintegration, exploring realms from the ordinary to the preposterous by an interchanging cast of four characters.”



Choreography: Deborah Hay
Original lighting design: Jennifer Tipton
Updated lighting design: Ivan Wahren
With 4 dancers in Cullbergbaletten
Duration: 50-60 minutes, no intermission
Year of origin: February 2004, Dancespace, New York

Cullberg premiere: Tanz im August, Berlin 23 August 2019


Voices in media:

The BESSIES, 2004
“… a wondrously strange and impermanent meditation on disintegration, exploring realms from the ordinary to the preposterous by an interchanging cast of four characters in The Match at Dancespace Project.”

Lisa Kraus, 2004, Dance Insider
“Seeing Deborah Hay’s The Match at Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church this past weekend makes it clear that Hay is a National Living Treasure, having forged a unique mode of performance that lives vividly, unfolding before our eyes… it is the body/mind of the performer that is visible above all else. Not only has that, continually dancing on a razor’s edge of newness brought exhilaration to dancer and audience alike.”

Gia Kourlas, TimeOut New York, issue #435, 2004
“The Match is a fascinating, vibrant battle of wits that unfold through a silent score of movement.”

Robert Faires, Austin Chronicle 1/21/2005
“Pulling this off, all four dancers exhibited extraordinary physical control, matched only by their exceptional willingness to explore this fascinating choreographic territory. Strange, funny, obvious, and obscure, this evening… gave me, in more ways than one, the time of my life.”

The original creation of The Match was made possible, in part, with funds from the Danspace Project’s 2003-2004 Commissioning Initiative with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Match was further developed through a residency provided by The Joyce Theater Foundation, New York City, with major support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The restaged version of The Match, in 2019 will be produced by Cullberg