BBC Arts Online hosts Goldberg Variations documentary

Prestigious UK arts website BBC Arts Online have been given the exclusive airing of a mini documentary on the Goldberg Variations project.

Filmed and produced by Scottish Ensemble filmmaker-in-residence Hugh Carswell, the short film gives a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes magic and chaos of the project as well as the reasons behind its conception and some beautiful footage of the actual performance, taken during its Swedish premières.

Watch the documentary below.

Goldberg Variations - ternary patterns for insomnia returns to Sweden for eight-date tour

Andersson Dance and Scottish Ensemble are thrilled to return to the stage together for an eight-date tour of Sweden. 

Kicking off tonight at Spira, Jönköping, the tour continues from the north to the south of the country, taking in Gävle, Västerås, Kungsbacka, Vara and Malmö before two concluding performances in Umeå on Sat 6 Feb. 

This extended return tour, organised by Dancenet Sweden, follows the premièe performances of the project in Stockholm and Växjö in September 2015. 

See below for a full list of dates, and keep an eye on the Goldberg Variations Blog for updates. 


Kulturhuset Spira, Jönköping
Mon 25 Jan 2016 at 7:00 pm
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Stora Gasklocka, Gävle
Wed 27 Jan 2016 at 7:00 pm
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Västerås Konserthus, Västerås
Fri 29 Jan 2016 at 7:00 pm
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Kungsbacka Theatre, Kungsbacka
Sun 31 Jan 2016 at 6:00 pm
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Vara Konserthus, Vara
Tue 2 Feb 2016 at 7:00 pm
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Dansstationen, Malmö
Thu 4 Feb 2016 at 7:30 pm
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NorrlandsOperan, Umeå
Sat 6 Feb 2016 at 3:00 pm
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NorrlandsOperan, Umeå
Sat 6 Feb 2016 at 8:00 pm
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Review: Sveriges Radio

 

It's not that easy to describe Goldberg Variations - ternary patterns for insomnia. It's a choreographed contemporary dance show, a performance piece, a classical concert...  and none of those things. As an audience member, it's difficult to know beforehand exactly what to expect. 

Cecilia Djurberg from sverigesradio.se came to the premiere performance at Dansens Hus, Stockholm and shared her description of what the event entails. 

Listen to Cecilia's review on the Sveriges Radio website

What exactly are Andersson Dance and Scottish Ensemble doing?

Musically, they stay, as far as I can judge, close to the notes; it is Sitkovetsky’s renowned transcription for strings that forms the basis of this show. What choreographer Örjan Andersson does is that he integrates dance and music physically on stage. It is not uncommon to put dance to live string music, but we are more accustomed to the musicians sitting in an orchestra pit, or at least out of the way for the dancers. Here, Scottish Ensemble moves around amongst the dancers on the stage and this is both entertaining to watch and a sort of comment on what constitutes ‘dance’. On paper, perhaps a string ensemble’s movements could be interpreted as some kind of dance, but here there is a clear intention to highlight musicians as choreographed performers, and some of the musicians get even own dance solos. So this orchestra really has to work hard for its fee.

So what are the dancers' tasks?

There are five dancers on stage. And they are performing any fictional action, but together with the musicians, create performance-tableaux that interpret the variations and comment on them physically and sometimes with words. Although it is not always clear-coded language, but often quite absurd - as when a dancer says "I am variation number 21" and thrusts one arm into a plastic tube.

What is the overall impression of the show?

It is quite playful. There are props that function much like toys. Except for plastic pipe there is a small wagon, some gold-coloured cushions and pennants... It looks a bit like the dancers and the orchestra have met to play or jam together, or just pass the time. The show has a subtitle which references mathematical patterns for insomniacs, but despite the unsentimental and quite loose form the piece is very well-rehearsed and respectful. I find myself having to sit with one of those happy smiles through the show and I realize that it is precisely this type of visual setting that people like me, a dance geek, usually misses when I go to classical concerts. So I think that Örjan Andersson manages to blend the best of both worlds - this is like an animated Bach concerto.

 

Review: Svenska Dagbladet

The first review of Goldberg Variations - ternary patterns for insomnia has been published in the Swedish press.

Read the Swedish version on the Svenska Dagbladet website

A generous dance concert brings the human spirit to life - J S Bach’s famous Goldberg Variations gain a playful and lyrical interpretation in a generous-spirited dance concert. The encounter between Andersson Dance and the Scottish Ensemble creates a timeless freedom, writes Anna Ångström.

Andersson Dance and the Scottish Ensemble in ”Goldberg variations - ternary patterns for insomnia” out on tour. Photo: Hugh Carswell

Andersson Dance and the Scottish Ensemble in ”Goldberg variations - ternary patterns for insomnia” out on tour. Photo: Hugh Carswell

Yes, you can let yourself go with Bach; his music is like a dance. Rhythmic, with distinct phrases. And it’s as if an irresistible burst of energy is making its way through the group of five dancers and eleven musicians that take the stage, facing the audience, in the introduction to ”Goldberg variations - ternary patterns for insomnia”. Örjan Andersson Dance & the Scottish Ensemble create an open, listening space where playful meets introspective and where relaxation feeds into intense concentration, sometimes insanely self-obsessed, sometimes lyrical.

After last year’s fairly vague installation piece ”Residual bits of sunlight”, followed this spring by the experimental group work ”Piano, piano” to Schubert, choreographer Örjan Andersson is returning to a purer exploration of music. J S Bach is a masterly representative of the period in which music becomes the art of organising sounds in time, abstracting emotions. His well-structured constructions create a freedom within the form that attracts choreographers. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker is one of those who got us to listen to, and see, Bach with new eyes.

Andersson’s ensemble now enthusiastically leap into Bach’s world through the well-known ”Goldberg variations” – an aria and 30 variations that, the myth has it, were composed for a count with insomnia who was delighted with the result. On the stage the Scottish Ensemble become part of the dance; expert string players who, led by violinist Jonathan Morton, allow their bodies to become mobile extensions of their instruments. It is superb, tight. Sometimes the music itself is enough, then the dancers only need to sit still or comment on it physically or verbally in postmodern style. After all, Bach is timeless. And yet they are drawn into the circulatory system of the music: the group that moves courteously or in patterns, the couple who move their hips in closely synchronised twirls or Danielle de Vries who dances an extrovert and introvert solo.

The musicians too comment on the variations, beating out rhythms on their bodies or gliding away. They are also interpreting Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s 1980s arrangement for strings, inspired by pianist Glenn Gould’s intense approach to playing Bach. You can almost see the way the vibrations from the strings of the piano are transferred via the stringed instruments to the physical bodies.

Sometimes the meeting between music and dance becomes too much of a variety show, illustrative or long-winded, as when– in a kind of second act – different everyday objects reflect Bach’s mirror-image symmetries. But the ending is sublime. Alone with her double bass, Diane Clark picks out Variation 30, encapsulating the essentials of human relations, our ability to listen. ”Goldberg variations” is a generous dance concert that brings the human spirit to life.

Anna Ångström

Swedish premières receive critical acclaim and standing ovations

The first performances of Goldberg Variations - ternary patterns for insomnia have been performed in Sweden - to standing ovations and great critical acclaim. 

The string orchestra and contemporary dance company will perform the piece in the UK from 13 to 21 November, taking in Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness, Aberdeen and Newcastle, before returning to Sweden for a 7-date tour early in 2016. 

Read on for a selection of the critics' responses so far.  

“I find myself having to sit with one of those happy smiles through the show and I realise that it is precisely this type of visual setting that people like me, a dance geek, usually miss when I go to classical concerts. So I think that Örjan Andersson manages to blend the best of both worlds - this is like an animated Bach concerto.”

Cecilia Djurberg
Sveriges Radio
Read the full review 


“The result is a musical feast... Magnificent music, the variety in the choreography and gentle humour, decidedly interesting dancers”

Peter Bohlin
nummer.se


“It seems like there are questions asked in each section and provided a wide variation of responses.”

Tina Kristina Persson
Smålandsposten


“Yes, you can let yourself go with Bach; his music is like a dance. Rhythmic, with distinct phrases. And it’s as if an irresistible burst of energy is making its way through the group of five dancers and eleven musicians that take the stage, facing the audience, in the introduction to Goldberg Variations - ternary patterns for insomnia. Örjan Andersson and the Scottish Ensemble create an open listening space where playful meets introspective and where relaxation feeds into intense concentration, sometimes insanely self-obsessed, sometimes lyrical.

“It is superb, tight. Sometimes the music itself is enough, then the dancers only need to sit still or comment on it physically or verbally in postmodern style. After all, Bach is timeless. And yet, they are drawn into the circulatory system of the music: the group that moves courteously or in patterns, the couple who move their hips in closely synchronised twirls or Danielle de Vries who dances an extrovert and introvert solo. 

“...the ending is sublime. Alone with her double bass, Diane Clark picks out Variation 30, encapsulating the essentials of human relations, our ability to listen. Goldberg Variations is a generous dance concert that brings the human spirit to life.”

Anna Ångström
Svenska Dagbladet
Read the full review



Andersson Dance and Scottish Ensemble gear up for Swedish premiere

The premiere performance of Goldberg Variations - ternary patterns for insomnia will take place this week at Dansens Hus, Stockholm. 

With dance rehearsals starting last month, last week the dancers were joined by musicians for what has been an intensive seven days of rehearsals led by Örjan Andersson and Jonathan Morton, Artistic Directors of Andersson Dance and Scottish Ensemble respectively.

After opening nights at Dansens Hus on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 Sep, the performance will move to Konserthus, Växjö on Sunday 20 September.

View the rehearsal gallery
Buy tickets for this week's performances