Interviewer: Hello and welcome to the Interpretive Expressions where we discuss the world of contemporary dance. We are lucky enough to have with us tonight Iceland's dance queen Katrin Hall. In 1996 she became the head artistic director of the Iceland Dance Company. She has performed and choreographed her unique style of emotional contemporary dance pieces all over the world. She collaborated with film maker Reynir Lyngdal and created "Burst" one of the most innovative, emotional, and entertaining contemporary dance pieces ever put to film. It became so popular that pop star Shakira asked Katrin to choreograph a similar piece for her music video "Did it again".
Interpretive expressions: Katrin, thank you for joining us.
Katrin Hall: You're welcome; it's my pleasure.
IE: Katrin, what was your inspiration behind the creation of "Burst."
KH: My inspiration came from a series of events that unfolded while accompanying my husband on a business trip. He was interested in investing in a country club. The location was in Washington State in a small town named twin peaks. I had just finished up a four-month tour and was exhausted. I was looking forward to spending some time alone with my husband in a nice relaxing environment. But unfortunately it did not turn out that way.
IE: What happened?
KH: When I first arrived at the hotel, The Great Northern, I was stunned. It was like a woodworker's dream: the floors, the ceiling, the furniture; everything was made out of beautifully cut pieces of wood. While my husband was talking with his business associates my eyes wandered. I imagined the hotel was a living entity and the grains of the wood were the vascular system. Starting on the floor I followed a capillary that lead me to the walls then around the window weaving through the picture frames and shooting up to the ceiling where the large trusses of lumber kept the hotel from caving in on itself. I got lost inside, until my husband pinched me. Then I snapped out of it. I guess I was just so tired from the months of performing. You know that feeling when you're awake for too long and your mind wonders into lucid thoughts and is unable to focus? That is how I felt. I just needed time to rest, that is all. The first night my husband was concerned. He tried to inquire more into it but I just told him I needed space. The next few days I ignored him, letting the tension grow. I left the group to wander in the forest. When I returned he flashed me a look of distain. I could tell that he was becoming uneasy about the whole situation. Even his colleagues noticed. He then became embarrassed. It eventually turned to anger. The second night was one of the worst fights in our marriage. The tension was too strong. Our threads just suddenly snapped. The anger felt good. I yelled but everything I said had no meaning. It was just loud noise and emotion, but it was just what we needed. After a few minutes a strange thing occurred. It was like we both left our bodies and at the same moment realized what was unfolding. My face and his changed almost instantaneously. When you are close with someone for a long period of time your minds start to work in tandem. You start to feel what they feel without them telling you. At that moment we both felt it. We smiled and embraced each other. We were woven together.
IE: I understand. S0 the fighting was the inspiration behind the making of "Burst"?
KH: It was a part of it but what cemented it came during the last night at The Great Northern. I thought I was in for another business speech when suddenly out of nowhere music started playing. Then an American man started making this sad almost angry series of grunts. He slowly brought his clenched fists to his face like he was about to cry, but he didn't.
IE: What did he do?
KH: He danced! In a way that I never witnessed, I felt a deep connection to this man. He danced in a simple 1950's American style but what I was really focused on was his face. The sheer pain and anguish he portrayed completely changed the meaning of his dance. At that moment I had an epiphany! Before that night in my work my body did all the talking while my face stayed calm. This man made me realize the importance of facial expression in dance. That night with the dance still fresh in my mind I started to choreograph in my head. On the plane ride home my brain was in overdrive. I thought of the fight with my husband and I acted out all of the harsh vocals with movement, I wanted to reenact that night. I wanted to show the beauty of fighting and how it can make your relationship stronger. I wanted to put emphasis on the moment when two minds leave their body and connect to become woven together, from chaos to peace. When I got back to Iceland I was on a mission to show this to the world. Unfortunately, my dance company was on a break so I decided to call my friend Reynir about doing a short film. When I pitched the idea to him he loved it and we started the project right away. The filming of Burst was one of the most exciting experiences in my career. As complex as the choreography was, it flowed out of me with no effort like it was an appendage. My husband was on the set and I would look over to him during the most aggressive parts. I would flash him a quick glance and for a moment our eyes were locked and we were connected. I guess that is what made the whole film flow so easily. Even though I was dancing with a colleague, I felt like I was with him.
IE: That is incredible! It is amazing how a business trip to Washington State changed the face of contemporary dance in Iceland and all over the world!
KH: It truly is!