Danse Macabre Perpetual Motion: Script, Presentation, Design and Concept

Mika Lumi Tuomola

    Research output: Artistic and non-textual formArtefactArt in coproduction


    Danse Macabre Perpetual Motion (writer Maureen Thomas, director Mika Tuomola, scenographer Jaakko Pesonen) is conceived as a form of ‘Total Theatre’ (Richard Wagner; Gropius/Bauhaus) enabled by digital technology, using video, music, dance and live action combined to express the drama. The musical and dramatic structure is influenced by the experiments of twentieth-century choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage with chance operations and indeterminacy. Danse Macabre integrates video-based media in psychoplastic space aims to create a new combination of live-cabaret and music/dance movie, where the audience is active, not passive. It is a uniquely 21st century form, enabled by digital technology. Story Outline: IVAN KAREZHKIN (b. 1937) (Russian e´migre´ choreographer, one time dancer) stages, in Turku and Tallinn, the European capitals of culture, in 2011, a revival of the first dance-drama that made him famous: the 2-person work, Danse Macabre. IVAN sees this as his ‘swan song’ his final farewell performance before retiring. IVAN selects young dancers TOM (b. 1989, from the UK) and ELENA (b.1988, from the US) to recreate the roles originally danced by IVAN (b. 1937, from Arkhangelsk, Russia) and his partner, STELLA (b. 1940, from Ivalo, N. finland), in Helsinki, in 1961. At the original premiere of Danse Macabre, IVAN, dancing the role of ‘the devil’, fell - and seriously damaged his knee. Danse Macabre has never been performed since; IVAN could not face re-staging it. In fact, IVAN never danced again after injuring himself, on the original first night. Now, in 2011, aged 74, IVAN is a world-renowned choreographer and teacher. Aware that his retirement from the world of dance is imminent, IVAN, at last, faces his ghosts. He stages this new Turku-Tallinn cultural capital celebration performance of Danse Macabre giving it, and himself, a second chance. Meanwhile, STELLA, now 71, stages her ‘crystal cabaret’, also in Turku and Tallinn, triggering memories of her life, including the traumatic events surrounding the original premiere of Danse Macabre. It is hard not to transform, or try to transform, someone you love into the image you project of them - whatever internal mirror of your own that image may emanate from. It is equally hard, when you feel vulnerable, not to shelter behind a more confident mask.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    MoE publication typeF2 Public partial realisation of a work of art


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