Með því að smella á „Samþykkja“ staðfestir þú að vafrakökur séu geymdar í tækinu þínu til að auka notendaupplifun, greina notkun síðunnar og aðstoða við markaðsstarf okkar. Skoðaðu persónuverndarstefnu okkar fyrir frekari upplýsingar.
Skilmálar um notkun á vafrakökum
Þegar þú heimsækir vefsíður gætu þær geymt eða sótt gögn í vafrann þínn með vafrakökum (e. cookies). Þetta er oft nauðsynlegt fyrir grunnvirkni vefsíðunnar. Vafrakökurnar gætu verið notaðar til markaðssetningar, greiningar eða til að sérsníða síðuna, t.d. til að geyma kjörstillingar þínar.

Persónuvernd er okkur mikilvæg. Þess vegna hefur þú möguleika á að slökkva á ákveðnum tegundum af vafrakökum sem eru ekki nauðsynlegar fyrir grunnvirkni vefsíðunnar. Þessi útilokun getur haft áhrif á upplifun þína af vefsíðunni.
Stjórnun á vafrakökum eftir flokkum
Alltaf virkt
Þessar vafrakökur eru nauðsynlegar fyrir grunnvirkni síðunnar.
Þessar vafrakökur eru notaðar til að birta auglýsingar sem eiga betur við þig og áhugamál þín. Þær geta einnig verið notaðar til að mæla árangur auglýsingaherferða eða takmarka fjölda skipta sem þú sérð auglýsingar. Markaðsfyrirtæki setja þær inn með leyfi rekstraraðila vefsíðunnar.
Persónulegar stillingar
Þessar vafrakökur gera vefsíðunni kleift að muna stillingarnar þínar (svo sem notendanafn, tungumál eða svæði) og veita betri og persónulegri upplifun.
Þessar vafrakökur hjálpa rekstraraðila vefsíðunnar að fylgjast með virkni síðunnar, hvernig gestir nota hana og hvort það komi upp tæknileg vandamál. Þessar vafrakökur safna ekki upplýsingum sem auðkenna gesti.

Performing Arts Centre Iceland Podcast - Episode 9: Lovísa Ósk Gunnarsdóttir - Choreographer

For this episode of the Performing Arts Centre Iceland podcast, host Salka Guðmundsdóttir was joined by an artist who has been taking her work across various borders in recent months. Choreographer and dancer Lovísa Ósk Gunnarsdóttir is one of Iceland’s leading dance professionals. Following a successful 16 year career with the Iceland Dance Company, she has now embarked on the next stage of her career.

Lovísa, dance has been your constant companion through your personal and professional life. How did you find dance – or did dance find you?

Yeah, dance found me most certainly. I've been dancing since I remember. This has always been an important part of my life. I was constantly performing in my living room and I started my dance education at the age of seven, and I showed up to every single dance class. But I was not planning on becoming a dancer. This was just something I did. Then after my high school graduation I decided to go to Stockholm and spent a year there dancing – that was supposed to cure me of this need to dance but it didn't … I decided to audition for the professional dance department in the school I was dancing in and got in – and then I had to admit that this was where I was heading. I had already signed up to study physiotherapy at the university here in Iceland but I had to admit to myself that this was my journey.

Lovisa Osk Gunnarsdottir choreorapher on stage with projections in the background
Photo: Owen Fiene

What options were open to you as a young woman from Iceland at that time, embarking on dance as a professional career?

In Iceland there weren’t many options. I had kind of done everything I could do here so going abroad was then the only option for me. And there wasn't this flow of information so this was all kind of based on some intuition. A friend of mine was half-Swedish so that's why we went to Stockholm where I stayed for four years, which was wonderful. Then I graduated and went to Barcelona for a few months to check out the scene there, nothing was happening there at that time – and I got my first job in Iceland in 2003 at the second edition of Reykjavik Dance Festival. I was working independently to begin with, also trying to create work and figure things out. I did an audition for the Iceland Dance Company, got a three month contract and then again a three month contract so I was kind of back and forward. Then I became a full member of the company and stayed there for 16 years.

Now for the past few years, much of your time has been taken up by your own creation, specifically a show called When the Bleeding Stops. You premiered this piece here in Reykjavik. Since then you have taken it to multiple venues in Norway, Ireland and Germany, with plenty more dates coming up this year in more countries. The show deals with a topic that really came from within your own body.

Yes, I am dealing with menopause and also aging. I was still working for the Dance Company when I was turning 40 and had recently been telling myself, wow, how lucky I am to have this strong body and still being able to do this physically challenging stuff – and then I injured myself and had to stop dancing for a long period of time. That was a total shock to the system. I started doing this daily dance practice in my living room. I went out for a walk and usually some song would start to play in my head and I would come home and dance to the song. This all happened in some kind of flow and was based on intuition. This played a really important part in my recovery and was really healing to me because I was able to connect again to this body that I kind of didn't know. It wasn't able to do all the things it was used to. Emotionally you could let things out and really connect to how you were feeling. And at the same time, I was also going through a period where I thought I had started my menopause. I was shocked to realize how little I knew about menopause and how I had somehow never had a real conversation with anyone about it. I started to try to find some more information and that just filled me with anxiety because I felt I was reading about this horrible disease. I felt a lot of shame and very strange feelings for something that's as natural as menopause. So these two things, the menopause interest and this newly developed daily dance practice led me to do a master’s degree. I decided that this was enough of company work, I wanted to save my body a bit, not completely ruin it, and I started a master’s degree at the Icelandic Arts Academy. My research project was called Preparing for menopause: a self-help dance.

A middle aged woman with short hair dancing on stage
Photo: Tale Hendnes

As you moved further into researching the subject, how did you go about it? I expect as a dancer and choreographer your process, your investigation will always be very physical.

What I figured out in this daily dance practice was that this was a lovely way for me to connect again to my dance history. On the living room floor, all these old styles and steps started to appear in my dancing, which was a powerful thing for me, being a dancer and sometimes being quite … let's say a bit irritated about this hierarchy between the spoken word and dance. I felt empowerment in my body bringing me all these memories without having to enter my critical thinking brain. So I was interested in exploring this and I was gonna do a solo but then on one of my walks I had this vision: what if I would get a lot of women to try this? I started with calling a few friends and asked them to try this daily dance practice and film themselves. It started with Ólöf Ingólfsdóttir and I got videos from her that just made me cry. There she was, this amazing artist in her living room, doing these beautiful moves. I thought, okay, I’m onto something. I posted an open invitation in a Facebook group called Menopause and I didn't know if someone would respond. Then I got all these beautiful videos of women dancing in their living rooms and with the videos I often got stories, some experiences, and that became the core of my work: my story, their story and all these dances.

That brings me to the format of the production because there are layers to it. You work with a number of women every time.

Here in Iceland I was mainly working with women living here but then we were invited to come to Norway and perform. I posted an open invitation there also and before arriving I led them through this online workshop where I guided them through my dance practice. They sent me videos and I then incorporated those videos into the projection I used in the piece. I did an on-site workshop as well and I invited them to join us on stage. I always bring three professional Icelandic dancers with me to lead the whole thing so the local women can be secure in what they are doing and just enjoy themselves. So every time I travel I connect with local women and invite them to join us on stage.

And what's that experience been like? Is there a strong core that appears with all these groups? Or have you found big differences?

This has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me as an artist, because the work is constantly changing. I'm always re-choreographing the projection and adding stories to my monologues. It’s a very alive piece of art, always new bodies on stage and these encounters with these local women have been wonderful. There is obviously the same core of the things we're dealing with but there are different flavours to. We always start by sitting down in a circle and having some coffee and some Icelandic treats, because we have never met each other at that point, and it's interesting how we immediately connect. There is something about the experience of menopause of course, but also all these women have decided to sign up for this project. That's the first step. And then they have all tried to dance in the living room and film themselves, which is often a huge step for them to take. And then they have decided to trust some Icelander with those videos, and then they're there. So they've taken all these steps before arriving, they are super committed and we are really in this together.

A group of middle aged women dancing on stage
Photo: Tale Hendnes

I know you see this project as part of a larger mission to break taboos and change the conventional narrative about the menopause.

Right, and what has been happening is this community building. All these women that have participated are building their own community. I always connect them through some social media platforms. And of course the message of the performance is very clear and I think it sparks a lot of conversation amongst the audience. Also, these women stepping up and being louder about this, feeling empowerment through this instead of shame.

The show is a delicious blend of opening up something very fragile and personal but also warmth and and humor.

It’s very important to for me to deal with it in that sense because we need to embrace this, we need to celebrate this, we need to change the narrative, shift the focus a bit. And I really am happy about how there is more conversation about it here in Iceland than when I started five years ago, but I still find the conversation very much about the symptoms, what we can do with the symptoms, very much on a medical level. I really miss this conversation about the social aspect. In mythical creatures you have the maid and the mother and the crone but we are missing one that has been kind of erased, which is the harvest queen, which comes between the mother and the crone. That’s the time where we are ripe and supposed to reflect on our beautiful harvest instead of being ashamed.

I think it's interesting that this work, which is striking a chord with a lot of people, has vulnerability very much at its heart. You talk about suffering an injury and having to adjust to the reality of a more vulnerable body. I feel like this is something that's really changing in contemporary dance. We might be used to seeing dancing bodies as the opposite of vulnerable. We see them as strong and capable, sometimes almost kind of otherworldly in what they're able to do. But there's a big shift in which bodies we're seeing on stage and also justbeing able to display this vulnerability, fragility.

I totally agree with you and I really celebrate this. I guess also for me personally as an artist I really needed to go on this journey because being in a repertoire company, constantly doing work for other people, when I look back I felt a bit of a disconnection to my body. To be able to really connect and take away all filters was very important for me as an artist. What I loved about the videos was this vulnerability, and in this world of Instagram and filters to just see normal women, however they were that day, in their living room without any filter. Also just to allow myself to be vulnerable and seeing the beauty and empowerment in that.

On a practical note, what has your experience of touring been like?

To begin with, I was doing most of the production side of things myself. It was a lot of work and very overwhelming. I always have this online workshop before traveling, I always need to redo the projection, so it's a lot of extra work – it's not just going there and performing. But recently I got an agent abroad which is a game changer for me. We are always five that travel from Iceland: myself, three dancers and then my wonderful technical director and designer Brett Smith. Then we meet the local women and they join us on stage. This has been a very long learning curve for me. And I guess I'm still trying to figure it out. Being able to apply for travel funding is crucial, that has been very helpful.

Silhouette of dancers in front of a projection of dancers
Photo: Owen Fiene

So are there any networks or platforms that you have used?

It was quite hard for me to sell the show before getting it to Europe but then we were accepted for Aerowaves which is a huge dance platform. Every year they choose around 20 performances that they showcase in a festival called Spring Forward. Aerowaves is a network of around 44 partners in Europe and that was a game changer for me because many people saw the show and we started selling like crazy after that. There was some magic in the air there. Then we were also accepted into IceHot which is a Nordic dance fair. Again after that we've had a lot of requests for touring so these two platforms have been fantastic for me.

Your time obviously is still very much taken up by When the Bleeding Stops because you really are on a roll with it right now. But have you had any time to think about where your artistic curiosity is going to take you next? What you might want to investigate?

Yes, I have a little thing in my stomach that is growing and I got a little support to research that. That is very much based on this deep connection with yourself and this practice of dancing in your living room and creating through that. Yeah, so there is something cooking. There are seeds.

As we already discussed, you have vast experience of working as a company dancer, so within an artistic institution – but alongside that, like most Icelandic artists, you worked on the independent scene too. For example, 20 years ago you and Halla Ólafsdóttir were already making work together for the independent scene. How did that kind of combination work for you all these years?

For me it was important to have both things and I'm very grateful that I didn't get the job with the Iceland Dance Company right away – that I had to do stuff on my own and get confidence there. I did a lot of very different things and that gave valuable experience and connections. But then to be able to step into the company and work with all these amazing artists and constant creation, constant performing – that was a very good school for me. It was just a prolonged education that really pushed me in different directions. I'm very grateful for that but it was always important for me to take some time off from the company and do more of my own stuff. So this was a great blend for me. When I started with the company, the way of working was very much that the choreographer came in with a ready-made idea and just started teaching us steps. That developed a lot through my career, into the choreographer coming in with a vague idea and we created a lot together, so that was much closer to what you're doing in the independent scene.

Did you ever think about relocating somewhere else or was it always a strong choice for you to be a dancer in Iceland?

My whole career and I guess my life has very much been in some kind of a flow. It has worked for me until now – you know, I wasn't planning on becoming a dancer but then I became a dancer and that was wonderful, and I wasn’t planning on becoming a choreographer, I was looking for other things to study, but then this calling came and I had to explore this and now I'm a choreographer … so it was just how it was and it worked for me.

So what excites you about dance today?

I think what excites me about dance is the endless possibilities and this freedom of constantly pushing the form to all different directions. The Icelandic dance scene is really blooming and I hope that we get more chances to tour with Icelandic dance arts. With a tad more support we really could be doing that.

In the widest possible sense, if you could change one thing about the Icelandic performing arts scene, what would you change?

The most obvious answer would be a dance house. I think that would be a fantastic thing for Icelandic arts and also just a very practical thing. I mean, we don't have a black box. To have a dance house with a black box would be wonderful. And then maybe because I am very much in the middle of this touring thing and I see the options, I see that in some other countries, for example in Norway, they have made the decision that they want to export Norwegian art and I think this is a decision we need to make. We have the talent, we have the quality but we just need a bit more support.