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Jo Strømgren Company

Serbian National Theatre, Novi Sad

The Loft

choreography, direction: Jo Strømgren
music: Bergmund Waal Skaslien
lights: Jo Strømgren, Jan Harald Ovrum
costume design: Bregje van Balen

duration: 60’
premiere: Belgrade Dance Festival, 2022.

production: Jo Strømgren Kompani

dancers: Henriette Hamli, Ellen Lindblad, Angela Dematté, Nora Svendsgård

“The Loft” takes a closer look at female stereotypes and offers them a chance to defend, doubt, and scrutinize themselves. What will remain if you look beyond the subjectivity of history and the expectations of a male viewpoint? Identity is a tricky concept and has lately become more and more about choices... Perhaps who we are is replaced by who we want to be? The performance features four female dancers with strong personalities who find themselves in a loft. Their reasons for being there are as diverse as the reasons to be in such a place – whether it is for solitude, to commit suicide or have secret sex, or simply to find a missing shoe. Nevertheless, four is the number for trouble and confined rooms the place for confrontations. The story turns in unexpected ways and portrays life as we fear seeing it – in a nutshell.

Born in Trondheim, in 1970, Jo Strømgren survived a typical Norwegian childhood with wild nature, social democracy values and violent troll fairytales. Apart from a traditional background, he also spent several years in tropical areas due to the occupation of his parents. This early mix of local identity and globetrotter confusion has been relevant in his professional work, both in themes, variation of genres, and perhaps especially in the particular interest in different languages. After graduation, he was drawn between two alternative studies, chemical engineering at a Polytechnical College and Russian language with the Norwegian military. Flamenco studies in Madrid during a year as an exchange student did however awake a serious interest for performing art and he sent off a stray application to the National Ballet Collegue in Oslo. He got accepted and the future was sealed. Although educated as a classical ballet dancer, he initiated a fruitful career in contemporary dance. Due to an injury he chose to focus on choreography and theatre direction. Literary ambitions evolved and was soon to become a steady career also in playwriting. Even though these three art forms are defined as his main occupations, he has also been developing a particular style in set design and lighting design. Involvement in film-making, both in front of and behind the camera, is also worth a mention. One of his films has achieved the prestigious Rose d’Or award. As a choreographer he has been commissioned by a wide range of companies – from classical to contemporary. As a theatre director he has mostly been working with national and municipal theatres in the Nordic region, although with several productions also in USA, Germany and Russia. As a playwright he has written a long list of plays for theatre and scripts for film. Jo Strømgren is artistic director of Jo Strømgren Company and currently House Choreographer at the Norwegian National Ballet. He has created more than 150 productions, most of them full evenings, while his works have been performed in 64 countries.

Jo Stromgren Company was founded in 1998 and from its base in Norway it has grown to become one of the most successful independent groups in Scandinavia. The company has been touring more than 60 countries so far, and around 150 performances take place annually both in large national theatres and small alternative venues all over the world. JSK’s home stage in Oslo is the Norwegian Opera House, where Jo Strømgren is Choreographer in Residence.

Physical theatre at its very best: daring, dark, unpredictable and charged with compressed intensity.
© The Guardian