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In 2002, we created the interactive dance work Qivittoq. This work was dedicated to our recently deceased friend, the author Ingamaj Beck. She grew up on Greenland and later spent parts of her life in Florence, Italy. Her partly autobiographical novel Qivittoq revolves around passion and death in these two quite different cultures. Through a personal and minimalistic language, Beck depicts how passion is common to us all and how our physical surroundings influence and change the way we live our lives. The mythological Inuit character Qivittoq is a carrier of souls between worlds and persons and in the dance-work this character was depicted by the dancer and choreographer Åsa Unander-Scharin.

In our rendering of Beck’s book, we wanted to merge the passion in her text with the cold and barren emptiness of the mythological creature of Greenland by using specific scenography and cold electronic interactive soundscapes in combination with an italianate and operatic artistic expression. Therefore, we decided to incorporate an aria by Claudio Monteverdi, Lasciatemi Morire, in the performance. As one of the most famous arias in the repertory of opera, this aria is the only surviving part of Monteverdi’s lost opera ”Arianna” (from 1608), and it is often referred to as the ”Lamento d’Arianna”. We sought a means to let the dancer (Åsa) accompany the singer (Carl) with interactive tools in this aria. We chose to let the dancer change the timbre of the synthesized chords and the loudness of the accompaniment as well as the forwarding of the chords through the movement of her wrists and elbows. As the dancer, Åsa, had experiences from playing the renaissance/ baroque instrument the Viola da Gamba, which is a bowed instrument that allows for the playing of chords, we decided to call the artifact ”The Virtual Viola da Gamba”. As the movements she used in order to play the virtual instrument resembled those that are used when playing the Viola da Gamba, this was an appropriate and inspiring term. A choreography was devised by Åsa in which she could accompany the vocals sung by me through her movements in a bodily enacted series of movements, parts of which were performed upside down as she was hanging with her feet in a net.

Åsa Unander-Scharin

Carl Unander-Scharin

Claudio Monteverdi

Maria Sanner (2010)
Anna-Sara Åberg (2012)

First performance: Moderna Dansteatern, Stockholm, 2002

Skulpturens Hus, Stockholm, 2003
Reaktorhallen, KTH, Stockholm, 2010
Stockholm Royal Opera, 2012
Operadagen Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2012
Riksteatern, Stockholm, 2014
Nobel Dialogue, Mässan, Göteborg, 2015
Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm (inauguration of the new building), 2017

Martin Hellström, Anders Roth

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