Pontus Lidberg - photographed above by Wendy Whelan - is creating a film entitled LABYRINTH WITHIN. Read an interview about the early stages of the project here. Three dancers are involved: Wendy Whelan, Giovanni Bucchieri and Pontus Lidberg. I first heard about this film from Wendy one afternoon when, charging up the steps from the subway, I nearly collided with my favorite ballerina. She told me that day that she was en route to Joyce SoHo to work with Pontus.
From the film's initial press release:
Within is a new dance film by Swedish choreographer and director Pontus
Lidberg. It takes off from the worldwide success of his 2007 dance film “The
married couple are experiencing difficulties in their relationship. The man
suspects that all is not right, that perhaps the woman is having an affair. The
elusive lover and the unpredictable world that surrounds him soon take over.
on a screenplay for three characters written and developed by Mr. Lidberg with
dramaturge Niklas Holmgren, the film, set to a contemporary score symphonic score, aims to tell the story through the merging of emotive dance and
project involves international collaborations and patronage on both sides of
the Atlantic. In October 2009, The Symphony Orchestra of Sweden's
NorrlandsOperan recorded the score written by Pulitzer Prize winning composer
David Lang featuring New York based cellist Maya Beiser. The following Spring,
during artist residencies at The Joyce SoHo and the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Mr.
Lidberg continued his creative process with a cast that features dancers from
the United States and Sweden including New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy
Whelan in the leading female role.
film was shot in Stockholm, Sweden during the long days and white nights of
June and July and is currently in the last stages of post-production through
the fall of 2010, it will be just under 30 minutes long.
the surface, “Labyrinth Within” is a danced drama about love gone stale, that
perhaps has disappeared in favor of veneer, and about the outlet found through
an affair. However, below this vessel for our story, it’s an existential
thriller about the human longing to connect with another on a deeper level and
to be free from constraint and the restriction of rules and convention. The
film explores the border of surface and substance: the apartment in which the
story takes place becomes a fourth character, balancing on the blurred border
between the kept surface of reality and the uncontrollable forces of emotion."
A chamber version of the choreography adapted for the stage will follow in the near future.
Above: Wendy Whelan in a still from the film. I asked Wendy if she would tell me about her involvement in the project and she very kindly took the time - right at the start of the NYCB season - to send me her thoughts about the film.
Here is Wendy's story, with photos:
Pontus told me about this project more than a year ago and I had to decide if I was interested and/or had time. I wasn't to sure about it at first. It was such a foreign and scary thought to "act" in front of a camera. (Photo above by Adrian Danchig-Waring)
I decided to go for it, so we worked a bit in January on some of the material, and then I'd say we rehearsed regularly for about 7 weeks - the whole of last Spring season. Whenever I didn't have a show I was working in the afternoons and evenings with Pontus and Giovanni, either at BAC or Joyce Soho. (Often gave up my Mondays to work with him too.) It was seriously taxing to spread myself like that, and it was frustrating for me to remember the choreography. We rarely used the music, and it was much different movement style for me. A lot of floor work and holding the weight of the men. My arms got quite strong from holding their weight:) Gabrielle Lamb was my cover and she helped me so much with the movement.
The choreography eventually started to flow for me when we would do showings. I knew that filming would bring on a different and interesting life to the steps. I was eager to feel what that would be like. Once I got to Stockholm, the experience of filming was totally worth all that work, and it was beyond what I could ever have imagined.
I really enjoyed the "acting" and telling this particular story. I loved being able to show these two very different sides of "a woman".... A real woman, with feelings and faults and desires - one side that's hardened and a bit bored and one that seeks out and embraces pleasure and intimacy.
Pontus had to keep reminding me to get off my tip toes and walk on my heels, like a pedestrian. He seemed to see something in me for the role that I wasn't so sure of at first, but he and I developed it together in the studio, but in front of the camera he really pulled it out of me and shaped it. (Above photo by Adrian Danchig-Waring)
Giovanni Buccheri, the other dancer in the film, was incredibly helpful too. It became very easy to lock eyes with Giovanni and get into his zone. He's quite intense. Giovanni and I play a husband and wife whose marriage has gone stale and we have a great discomfort communicating. We say a lot through our eyes. Our duet is more staccato and brittle, square and confined. He imagines I am having a affair. It's not totally clear if it's real or his imagination.
Pontus plays the lover, and he seems to be part beautiful young man and part animal. Our duets are very seductive and sensual, full of swoops and circles, and skin and touching. I don't think you see much of his face, unfortunately.... in our duets, mostly bodies, I think. He's sort of kept a mystery.
We filmed in a castle just outside Stockholm for a week. We worked at least 12 hours a day. I never wanted it to end each day. The crew was fantastic - from the cinematographer to the one makeup artist. They were all top notch in their field and lovely people.
Pontus directed the film, and he was amazing at it. He was so focused and knew exactly what to say to get what he wanted out of us. It was really something else, another level of artistry and beauty. I have no idea what the film will be like at all. All I know is what it felt to be a part of it... it was a week of total love and magic."
Above, Pontus and Wendy photographed by Adrian Danchig-Waring. I've always thought Wendy Whelan would be a splendid big-screen presence so it's enticing to read that she loved the experience and wants to explore further possibilities.
Now we await the film's release and hopefully an opportunity to see it here in Gotham.
Meanwhile, there's an opportunity to see Pontus Lidberg's choreography here in NYC as he participates in the performances by MORPHOSES at The Guggenheim on October 2nd and 3rd. Info here. For these performances, both Pontus and Jessica Lang will be setting the same work by composer David Lang (whose music is also to be heard in the film). More about the MORPHOSES performances will appear on my blog in the coming days.