Halla Ólafsdóttir

In her first work for Cullberg, choreographer Halla Ólafsdóttir starts out from the mythological creature the sylph, an ethereal being with the power to shape-shift. Rougher, rawer and louder than humans, the sylphs have a voice and a giant body. They walk in and out of the ballet’s mysterious forest, dancing, whispering, rustling, knocking and chewing, like creatures or animals.

A “love-hate-relationship” with classical ballet, and a mix of “high and low culture” are in focus in Ólafsdóttir’s new work Sylph created in collaboration with composer Shida Shahabi, set and lighting designer Chrisander Brun, and costume designer Hanna Kisch. Sylph plays with exorcism and the occult, and examines what happens choreographically when sound, costume, set design, lights and dance have equal roles.

About Halla Ólafsdóttir:
Halla Ólafsdóttir is a dancer and choreographer with an MA in choreography from Stockholm University of the Arts (formerly DOCH). She always works collectively in various constellations that look for ways of expanding the notion of choreography. A big part of her work revolves around recognizable material from art and pop culture where she explores what happens when set in another context.  She often uses conventions and clichées, trying to find working methods that break and erase those. For Halla, the meeting between the artist and audience outside the stage is very important and through her artistic work she has focused on building structures to provide feedback, both among artists, but also between the audience and the practitioners.

Halla has been touring together with Amanda Apetrea with the pieces DEAD (2017), and Beauty and the Beast, which won the Prix Jardin d’Europe Awards at ImpulsTanz in 2013. The duo’s upcoming work is Sälkvinnorna (2023). Halla is part of the collective Samlingen, a choreographic project where a common interest in choreography and feminism is intertwined with the history of dance, together with other practitioners and the audience. Samlingen changes from place to place and has so far worked at the Postdance conference, the Works at work festival in Copenhagen and at Riksteatern (The Swedish National Touring Theatre). Samlingen is currently working with The Swedish Ballet 2020-2025. In the autumn 2013, Samlingen collaborated with Cullberg at Dansmuseet in Stockholm.

Halla experiments with various forms and expressions, and finds inspiration in different art forms. She played the lead role in the feature film Under Influence by Sidney Leoni and will play in the upcoming FLY by Leoni, as well as in a new film directed by Ester Martin Bergsmark, A Sweetness From Nowhere. Halla and choreographer Eliisa Erävalo have developed the workshop BITCHCRAFT which was held with Cullberg and as with Iceland Art Academy. Together, they have created the works Bitch (2021) and Granddaughters (2022).  With Erna Ómarsdóttir they are currently working with their piece Romeo <3 Juliet (nominated for “DER FAUST Awards” 2019)  with Iceland Dance Company, and with the new work The Juliet Duet (2022).

Choreography: Halla Ólafsdóttir
Music: Shida Shahabi
Lighting and set design: Chrisander Brun
Costume design: Hanna Kisch
Created in collaboration with the dancers
Premiere with Cullberg May 4, 2023 Dansens Hus/Elverket

Picture: ©Nina Andersson