Home Isolation with…Ingrid Berger Myhre

On 15 May 2020 dance artist Ingrid Berger Myhre would have premiered her new piece In Other Words at SPRING Festival. Due to the circumstances, that couldn’t happen. However, we would like to take a moment to reflect with her on these strange times and the process of In Other Words by asking her a few questions.

Could you tell us a little bit about the working process of In Other Words so far?
‘Thomas, Chloe, Pablo and myself were about to start our 3rd week in the studio when we suddenly had to call off our rehearsals. It felt so dramatic, being physically torn apart, whilst in the middle of something really joyful. But up until this involuntary divorce, we danced. A lot! I haven’t danced this much in a long time. In fact, the four of us take great pride and joy in the fact that we are (actually? finally?) making a dance piece. With all its spectacle and problems. It’s safe to say that we are amusing ourselves with this premise. Only two weeks into rehearsals, and we had already so many inside jokes and puns that sometimes I asked myself where would this end…’

‘On a less sentimental note, In Other Words is essentially a piece that tests the compatibilities between dance and language. So we are speculating on how dance is not simply expressive like language, but how it in itself is language. We wonder if – and how – it can be read through a linguistic model. Basically, the making of the piece dialogue with three fundamental questions: If dance has vocabulary, what can it say? What conditions this vocabulary? And what does it really mean to be a literate spectator of dance?’

What do you hope for In Other Words?
‘Sometimes, it seems to me that dance has a reputation of being either overly expressive or completely incomprehensible. I find that this position of dance, as a mute and mystical expression (colonised by language by means of its explicative powers) underestimates the complexity of dance as an articulate expression. So I’m interested in giving this reputation an alternative.’

‘I hope that this project can contribute to the discourse of dance as a literate art form. And perhaps provide some clarity and a sense of humour when it comes to how a dance and its spectator encounter each other in the quest of making – or sensing – sense.’

What keeps you occupied during the corona crisis?
‘I am full of contradictions, these days. On the one hand, I’m exhausted from projecting multiple hypothetical re-scheduling scenarios on a day-to-day basis. But on the other, making these contingency plans helps me project some hope. It’s fascinating to watch all the days in the calendar with exciting plans coming and going, keeping meticulous track of these parallel me’s that would have been, should have been…’

‘I let myself go and pull myself together every other day. One day I’m angry with myself for not having secured my own conditions better, and the next I’m reminded of my many privileges. One day I am maturely coming to terms with all the cancellations, and the next day I’m mourning the lost time with my brilliant colleagues in my favourite project. I spend a lot of time reflecting on how a more sustainable structure could look like – and how I can work towards a more longterm organisational model, that can offer more security to the artists I collaborate with.’

‘I am restless and tired at the same time. One moment I tell myself this might just be exactly what I needed in order not crash-land in a burnout next year, and right after I laugh at what an obviously poor (and cute) coping strategy that is. I think recognising my emotional responses to this collective trauma is important. So I’m trying to embrace being “both”. Both soft and strong. Both grateful and disappointed. Maybe it’s not so much contradictions, as complexity. And it’s a good exercise to give room for complexity these days, to practice nuancing. Because even though we are supposedly all in the same boat, we are not all in the same situation. We are all affected, but we are all affected differently.’

Image: Tale Hendnes