Astrid Mæland has created a feminist solo piece that utilizes humor, choreography, and improvisation, situated at the intersection of dance and theater. The stage is her workspace, a world of her own.
WORKSPACE express thoughts and observations about how women have been and are portrayed in literature.
WORKSPACE is an illumination, a process, a thought, or a quest for an answer. The solo is a tribute to the women of the art world. Let's all take up more space in all kinds of rooms!
The performance will be held at the Nordic Black Theatre & Caféteateret on September 30th at 7:30 PM and on October 1st at 1:00 PM.
Photo: Einar Stabenfeldt
Choreographer and performer:
Tor Arne Ursin og Geddy Aniksdal
Anette Röde Hagnell
Hans Petter Eliassen
Nordic Black Theatre
Teaterparken - Grenland Friteater
Astrid Mæland (1996) holds a Bachelor's degree in Contemporary and Modern Dance from the Faculty of Performing Arts at the University of Stavanger and the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona. She has worked as a dancer and choreographer since 2018. She is part of the artist trio VÅKEN, and WORKSPACE is her solo project. Mæland's artistic work experiments with various dance genres, voice, and acting.
Photo: Hans Petter Eliassen
«I invite people into my space, and I have plenty of opinions. People can take it as it is! »
Emma: Do you feel that your work has any repeated distinct characteristics?
Astrid: I do think I've developed some characteristics over time. I'm very fond of momentums, elements with different degrees of speed, often in circular configurations - I'm not sure if they're spirals exactly, but a lot of circles. If I were to get a bit nerdy about it in terms of movement. As a contrast, I also like to go against that. I work a lot with contrasts. But I think my movements are generally quite soft.
Generally, artistically, I work a lot with narratives, and I'm very plot-driven. I think a lot about a story - maybe more so than concepts, but some concepts can emerge eventually. I'm very driven by images and scenes.
Emma: Do themes emerge from the narrative?
Astrid: Yep, and the dramaturgy can often develop and become a thing over time and I’ll realize that I’m grasping too much and want to narrow down on a more specific theme.
I'm heavily influenced by my love of movies, books, and theatre.. I've started incorporating acting into my artistic work, which is also a kind of childhood dream of mine - to become an actress. I'm testing it out and playing with it. Challenging myself.
Aurora: And right now, you're working on topics related to women in literature in the piece WORKSPACE?
Photo: Hans Petter Eliassen
Astrid: Yes, I got the idea in 2019 when I was reading a lot of feminist anthologies, particularly 'Om muser og menn' by Marta Breen. It's a rant book the way I read it. For example, she talks about women who have helped their husbands with their work and may have in fact done much more of that work than they have been credited for. That book, and a few others I read, served as a catalyst for me wanting to work with this in dance.
I've reflected on my own relationship to literature and the books I've read as a child, a teenager, and in school - some of them I consider very progressive with strong female characters, while others I see as very male-romanticizing. Sometimes unintentionally.
So, the books I've chosen for the piece are ones I've had a relationship with either as a child, a teenager, or an adult.
Then I reflect on them, using movements or comments, to express my thoughts on them.
«The format might be somewhat similar to a personal anthology.»
Astrid: I also feel that the solo is very much about taking up space. I have 30 minutes where I connect with the audience and express my opinions, asking to be listened to, without apologizing for it afterward. That, in itself, can be personal, interesting and feminist.
Feminism is indeed a massive topic and incredibly challenging for many people, so everyone might not agree with what I express in this piece. . Some might find it superficial and think that I don't really come to any conclusion but the process or mindset they're left with is also part of the point - that they need to reflect on their own relationship with it.
There are references both in the title and in what I'm going to say in the piece, that connect it to not just the books that are there, but other cultural references that may have been in the spirit of feminism, or have emerged because of feminists. Or that one recognizes from more sexist works. I've also tried to embody the associations people have with different literary works and played around with that. I find it fun and challenging, like miming a familiar story through voice, dance, and acting.
Photo: Einar Stabenfeldt
Emma: I'm looking forward to seeing it.
Aurora: It does sound quite confronting as well, to be invited into a space where they have to listen, they have no choice.
Astrid: Yes, it's also quite exciting. It's not interactive in that sense; it's a desire to invite them into my world, where they have to listen to only me.
I don't want to be interrupted, and I don't want to be mansplained - this is my opinion that I want to express, and I'm also in a process of reflection during the performance.
I'm searching for answers within the work itself so it doesn't come across as too assertive. I'm in my workspace within the piece, writing, searching, moving things around and I want to be undisturbed.
Emma: Do you feel that you gain new reflections when you perform the piece multiple times?
Astrid: Yes, and it's interesting to think that when I started this project in 2019 I was 23-24 years old, and the world premiere was in 2022.
Now, in 2023, I'm 27 and I still have the same opinions.
Perhaps there's been new inspiration from various sources along the way, and maybe I've gained some new perspectives. The piece isn't set step by step; I work with a lot of improvisation within different qualities, so it will be very exciting to get into rehearsals and see what happens. Maybe I'll rewrite the script. We'll see.