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INTIMATE DISTANCE

For the Norwegian National Ballet, Oslo

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“Patrick King’s ’Intimate Distance’ is a richly detailed study of bodies in movement, that allows the public to almost flow into the performance. It begins with big, alive, slow images projected in the foyer. Dancing on the stage while the public finds their seats. Outside the stage the dancers move in water, on stage they dance against a poetic dripping backdrop. Pity it is so short.“ Dagbladet

“Smilingly elegant. This creation by Patrick King shows that the Ballet Director Ingrid Lorentzen is properly in the swing of her ambition to tear down barriers and open up the dance in the opera for more people. ... the evening was an experience of art full of impressions.“ Vårt Land

THE COMMISSION:

The request from Ingrid Lorentzen, Artistic Director of the Ballet at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, was for me to create a moment which would aide in the re viewing of master works by the great choreographers of our era: George Balanchine, Jiri Kylian and William Forsyth. And to welcome the prodigious talent of the young L. Scarlett.

I decided to create an Experience which would envelope the visitor from the moment they enter the Opera building. For them to experience the space as part of the art. The ballets on the program would range from neoclassic to post modern,- contemporary- classic dance styles. I decided I would use references of all the differing styles to build the choreographic and physical language

An important part of the assignment included a wish to show the dancers as artists with individual personality. To accomplish this I chose to place them in environments of acute intimacy. Here the architecture was the inspiration. The Opera house building is surrounded on three sides by water. It is on the edge of the fjords where the winds wind plays an important role.Thus the dancers would be filmed under water and in wind. I would remove the distance and create an intimacy. Removing the "fourth wall" INTIMATE DISTANCE places the artists in the same space as the public. Where the public becomes part of the performance and the dancers become accessible as individuals and not just as distant figures moving in abstraction.


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THE SPACE:

Even before I what the title of the piece the architecture was my main influence and inspiration. Particularly that of the foyer.The design it self is a symphony of spaces within a space. Everything is open with large distances between the different areas yet the feel is very intimate. The space would be exalted and not altered.

My task together with videographer Erle Killinmark was how do we exalt the room's energy yet not obscure nor compete with it's architecture. Video yes, but projected how? Screens, yes but the room is so large and open. The idea to use over sized screens became obvious but then to place the screens between the structural columns of the foyer was key to unlocking the whole experience.


THE TITLE and THEME

Intimate Distance The theme is within the title itself: Intimacy and distance. What is the intimate distance between people? Is it the touching of skin or is it the viewing of the intimacy between others? Is this distance prescribed or is it fluctuating? is distance just physical? The piece is not aimed at answering these questions specifically, however, Rather, I hope that through the juxtaposition ing of the different mediums: video choreography, music and lighting, that these themes and questions are triggered in the subconscious of the experiencer Where intimacy and distance configure and re configure.


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INSPIRATION

Intimate Distance is inspired by the late 19 th century sculptor Auguste Rodin and his sublime capacity of setting movement in stone. His ability to imbue something so still and seemingly lifeless with so much life and movement. With just one glance at Rodin's The kiss Or Idole Eternelle or of the Dream one gets to the depths of humanity. In just one glance one feels an understanding

An understanding that incites more investigation. you want to look further, deeper. You feel as if someone has just shared an intimate secret. And when you pull back... at a distance it leaves some traces of something already known. Intimate Distance is not a re -representation of Rodin's work but rather a work inspired by Rodin's passion. An ode to the body and the celebration of it's expression. The idea was to use sculptures of Rodin and the aura around them as points of departure.


INTIMATE DISTANCE- WHAT IS IT

A proper name for this type of thing does not really exist yet. It can be called an Image Poem... or...Performance Art if one wants to get into definitions...maybe. I call it a crafted Experience.


HOW DOES IT HAPPEN

The piece takes place in several spaces. The entrance foyer of the Norwegian National Opera house, the main hall - auditorium and stage. The installation takes place in all the spaces almost simultaneously. Meaning : The foyer is animated as the public comes into the building. Video projections and sound design are happening as the public arrive and get tickets and and drinks...


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The dancers in the foyer float under the video screens sometimes looking at themselves : They are the subjects of the actual film being projected on four oversized screens: ranging from 4 to 9 meters high. Sometimes the dancers interact with each other. At other times they interact with the public. There are some sequences of choreography which are set while other physical interventions are improvised along very clear directives and parameters.

The combination of the video and music soundscape with the live musicians playing at precise intervals plus the dancers moving in the light design creates a dream like atmosphere. A special experience for the public where they are taken on what I call the Beautiful Voyage...

The timing is elastic yet precisely coordinated so that when the action in the foyer has reached its apex the doors to the main hall-auditorium are opened to reveal it's own video, light design and soundscape. The soundscape in the foyer is synchronized with the soundscape from the main stage who's own video installation and lighting design involves the whole room and not just the stage itself.

The synchrony of the flow allows that as the public enter the room they are greeted by the dancers inhabiting the space and they are guided by the live musicians who have accompanied them into the room from the foyer. The Experience continues and culminates on the main stage as the lights dim magically, the dancers continue to glide on and off the stage while the immense video projection of blow up images of water drops fall in an almost interminable continuum. Meanwhile the orchestra pit with the musicians slowly and enchantingly descend.The final moments of choreography continue while the curtain slowly falls.


From the Beginning - INTEGRITY

After long talks and mucho musings over the beauty and passion, landscapes and how the passage time affects surfaces like those of a sculpture or a sand dune, the tasks for the different elements of the installation began to be clear. though there would be many alterations between start of project and premier day, what remained constant was that each element of the installation would maintain it's own integrity. They must each be able to stand on their own as well as together in juxtaposition.

Both the video and the soundscape were created to be separate entities, though they would be played together in the installation.The video would not be set to the music and the music was not to follow the video. The The fact that they were made to be viewed or listened to separately creates a very special universe when experienced in tandem.


VIDEO - Erle Kyllingmark

For the video the talks were about creating an easy beauty. Something that could flow over you easily but then leave traces of memory that would be of something beautiful yet tangible somehow. A meditative viewscape where the dancers would be exalted yet not for the sake of ego but to get them to connect from a simple place yet with depth.


MUSIC - Leif Jordansson

There were the many requests and musings about what the music would be when I started talking with Leif J. Using Bach's The art of the Fugue as a base The idea became a soundscape that include both live instruments and pre recorded musics. I felt that we should be taken on a voyage to different continents and cultures. That we should hear and feel these but only as an impression. My favorite question was: How does the sun sound? Not the sound that we hear in movies after the rain or after a dark moment but the sound of the sun itself. What could we do to get that?


LIGHTING DESIGN - Paul Vidar

In the Foyer the light design would need to transfigure the space yet not be intrusive. A light design that would aide in feeling the room. Somber yet atmospheric enough for the video to be seen well. It must still provide enough light for the public to get drinks and tickets and navigate the space without difficulty.


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COSTUMES - Patrick King

I wanted the overall look to be not just something they put on but it should reflect a part of each dancers personality.It was important to reflect the times that we live now with influences of fashion and a certain art- exoticism.

I also wanted a subtle recalling of the epoch of Rodin. So I chose some shapes of the women's silhouette from the late 19th century. Color was very important. I chose to use the color palette of the foyer itself. Opting for shades and nuances of wood beige to highlight the varying complexions of the dancers.


THE CHOREOGRAPHY

The choreography is what I call stylized realism and abstract movement. Based on the classical technique. It is a collage of styles and techniques that by now is no longer a real collage but a sort of short hand of a now personal movement language which is taken both from the formal canon of the dance as well as just everyday movements exalted into stylized actions. The mixing of the canonized movement and the exaltation of the pedestrian movement offers a quite variating language.

During the piece the dances are encouraged to talk to each other and to interact with the public as they glide through the space. They are asked to produce positions which are quite extreme yet to execute these positions as they would approach walking. The moments of set choreography must "grow out of the moment". The public must not be aware of their preparation nor of their conclusion. As in life here things happen then other things just happen. there is no announced beginnings nor conclusion.